Since 1982 when then-president Ronald Reagan refused to sign the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), it has been kept on a legislative backburner awaiting a ratification vote in the U.S. Senate. Suddenly in early May, both Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Leon Panetta, Secretary of Defense, both announced that they were in favor of getting LOST ratified this year. According to some pundits, Kerry would have already scheduled hearings on LOST, but postponed them to avoid hurting the chances of key LOST supporter, Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), in his primary face-off with tea-party-backed Richard Mourdock on May 8. It turns out that Lugar lost anyway. (Scroll down to view a short video of Dick Morris warning about LOST.)
So, now that Lugar's primary election is over, Kerry says he will work hard to find the right time for holding hearings and a ratification vote this year. At this point, it's hard to predict when a ratification vote might occur. We have to expect it could occur as early as June and as late as a lame-duck session after the elections in November. UPDATE, May 18: The Senate is gearing up for a LOST push. Kerry's Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing on the Law of the Sea Treaty on Wednesday, May 23, 2012. The witnesses will be Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dempsey. This means a ratification vote could occur as early as June. UPDATE, June 20: At the May 23 hearing, Senator Kerry announced that he would not schedule a ratification vote on LOST until after the fall elections, which means a vote will likely occur during the customary post-election lame-duck session.
Most of the opposition to LOST is based on opposition to its creation of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which has been established to administer the natural resources of the seabeds and ocean floor. If the United States ratifies LOST, American entrepreneurs who mine the ocean floor would be required to pay substantial royalties to and share technology with the ISA, thus providing a revenue stream for an arm of the UN.
However, there is a much better reason to reject ratification.
Read this statement from an official UN document, "25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Oct. 17, 2007:
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ... is perhaps one of the most significant but less recognized 20th century accomplishments in the arena of international law.... Its scope is vast: it covers all ocean space, with all its uses, including navigation and overflight; all uses of all its resources, living and non-living, on the high seas, on the ocean floor and beneath, on the continental shelf and in the territorial seas; the protection of the marine environment; and basic law and order.... The Convention is widely recognised by the international community as the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and the seas must be carried out. ("25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Oct. 17, 2007; emphasis added.)
Notice that this UN document, which was posted by the UN's Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, reveals that the UN’s understanding of LOST is that it gives the UN authority over everything, over, on, in, and under the oceans and seas of the world. That includes both military and economic uses. That’s why it is so important that the U.S. Senate does not ratify LOST.
And, remember under the UN division, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), that administers LOST's provisions for exploiting the natural resources of the oceans and seas, our nation wouldn't have the same type of veto power like we do in the UN Security Council. We'd have just one vote among 163 votes in the ISA Assembly along with a certain privileged status in the 36-nation ISA Council along with China, Russia, and Japan.
Yes, 162 nations have already ratified LOST, and yes, the United States has already been implementing nearly every chapter of the Law of the Sea Treaty since it went into force in 1994 when 60 nations had ratified it. However, U.S. ratification would provide that final stamp of legitimacy for the UN’s power grab over the oceans and seas and constitute a major step into world government.
Therefore, we must hold the line.
Let your Senators know that they must not ratify LOST.
UPDATE, May 18, 2012: There is some good news from the Senate concerning opposition to LOST. Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is circulating a letter among his Senate colleagues urging them to join him in opposing the Law of the Sea Treaty, citing 'Redistribution of Wealth' and 'Freedom of Navigation.' Here are a couple excerpts from the letter according to CNSNews.com:
By its current terms, the Law of the Sea Convention encompasses economic and technology interests in the deep sea, redistribution of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations, freedom of navigation in the deep sea and exclusive economic zones which may impact maritime security, and environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution....
To effect the treaty’s broad regime of governance, we are particularly concerned that United States sovereignty could be subjugated in many areas to a supranational government that is chartered by the United Nations under the 1982 Convention. Further, we are troubled that compulsory dispute resolution could pertain to public and private activities including law enforcement, maritime security, business operations, and nonmilitary activities performed aboard military vessels.
So far the following 24 Senators have signed the letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledging to oppose ratification of LOST:
Jon Kyl of Arizona; Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma; Roy Blunt of Missouri; Pat Roberts of Kansas; David Vitter of Louisiana; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; John Cornyn of Texas; John Boozman of Arkansas; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho; Orin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah; Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama; John Barrasso of Wyoming; John Thune of South Dakota; Richard Burr of North Carolina; Saxby Chambliss of Georgia; Dan Coats of Indiana; John Hoeven of North Dakota and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
It takes just 34 Senators to defeat ratification of a treaty like LOST, so this is definitely doable. However, don't underestimate the powerful Establishment forces in favor of ratification. I'd rate this as an uphill battle, but winnable only if there is a sufficiently large outpouring of grassroots opposition to LOST.