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February 2005   henry lamb
Warning: LOST Again By Henry Lamb

Warning: LOST again

By Henry Lamb


One of the first questions asked of Condoleezza Rice during her confirmation hearing came from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar. He asked her if the administration would support ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. Her answer was an unequivocal "yes."

Before he popped the question, with TV cameras running, Lugar said that claims by critics that the treaty would result in the loss of national sovereignty and that the treaty authorized the U.N. to collect taxes were false.

Article 2(3) of the treaty says quite clearly, that:

"... sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to this Convention and to other rules of international law."

The exercise of sovereignty over territorial seas subject to any authority other than the Congress of the United States is a loss of sovereignty, which cannot be denied.

Moreover, Section XI of the Convention establishes the International Seabed Authority, which has the power to collect an "application fee," from anyone wishing to mine the seabed, as well as the authority to collect a "royalty" based on the value of minerals mined from the seabed.

Mr. Lugar does not call this a tax. Whatever it may be called, whenever government has the power to require payment from individuals or from corporations, it is a tax.

These are only two of the many reasons why this treaty should not be ratified by the United States. There is literally no benefit provided by this treaty to the United States that is not already available without the entanglement of the U.N.

This treaty was rejected by President Reagan in 1982. It was re-worked during the Clinton years and resubmitted for ratification. It was rejected again in 2000. John Turner in the U.S. State Department submitted the treaty again in 2004, and Chairman Lugar massaged it through his committee without allowing any dissenting testimony. Fortunately, other senators demanded to hold hearings where dissenting testimony was allowed, and the treaty failed to reach the Senate floor for a vote.

Once again, this treaty is high on Mr. Lugar's priority list for the 109th Congress. And once again, defenders of American sovereignty must speak out against it.

Aside from the loss of national sovereignty that would result from ratification and the authorization of the U.N. body to impose taxes, this treaty embodies another precedent-setting concept: U.N. administration of the "global commons" as the "heritage of mankind."

The treaty specifically declares the non-territorial seabed to be a "global commons" and authorizes its exploitation, under the direction of the U.N., for redistribution to the people in nations that have no part in producing value from the seabed.

Another U.N.-related body, the Commission on Global Governance, has defined the global commons to include:

"... the atmosphere, outer space, the oceans beyond national jurisdiction, and the related environment and life-support systems that contribute to the support of human life" (Our Global Neighborhood, p. 251).

Ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty would be acquiescence to the principle that global commons -- as defined by the U.N. -- is the "common heritage of mankind" and subject to the U.N.'s administration and redistribution.

This principle flies in the face of John Locke's philosophy -- the foundation of capitalism -- that a resource belongs to its first possessor and that a resource combined with labor produces a property to which the possessor is uniquely entitled.

America, in pursuit of an ownership society and dedicated to lead the world toward individual freedom and the prosperity that freedom unleashes, simply cannot embrace a system of global collectivist governance that would deny private ownership and require tribute to a global system dedicated to the redistribution of other people's wealth.

Few senators have ever read this lengthy treaty, filled with confusing language that describes obscure councils, committees and procedures. They will decide whether to vote for or against this treaty based on the advice they get from their staff and from professionals who have read the treaty.

They will also be influenced by the people who vote for them. Voters who care about national sovereignty and individual freedom, who prefer capitalism over global socialism, will want to be sure their senators know how they feel about this treaty.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of