Brian Darling

Any way you slice it, the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) threatens American sovereignty. So why would the Senate even consider ratifying it?

Treaty proponents such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., claim the treaty would give the United States important new rights and advantages. But, as Heritage Foundation expert Kim Holmes, a former Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, observed last year, LOST offers the U.S. nothing we’re not already entitled to under customary international law.

“Treaty supporters claim ratification will give the U.S. additional rights to oil, gas and minerals in the deep seabed of its extended continental shelf,” Holmes wrote. “But the U.S. already has clear legal title and rights to the resources of its continental shelf (even though the current administration bans drilling there).” How ironic that the anti-drilling Obama Administration is pushing for LOST with the argument that it would somehow it easier for American companies to drill.

Furthermore, there are tax provisions in the treaty that allow the redistribution of wealth from American companies to developing nations.

Ratification of the treaty by the Senate takes a two-thirds vote. LOST proponents plan to hold a few more committee hearings, then bring to treaty to a vote during a post-election, Lame Duck session.

The first hearing, conducted last week in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a real eye-opener. No critics of the pact were allowed to testify. The witness list, hand-picked by the Administration, consisted of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

During the hearing, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) professed to be starting from a neutral position vis a vis ratification. Directing a query to Ms. Clinton, he said “A lot of people believe that the administration… wants to use this treaty as a way to get America into a regime relating to carbon, since it has been unsuccessful doing so domestically. And I wonder if you might respond to that”

Ms. Clinton’s response? She said she has a legal analysis that knocks down that argument.


Brian Darling

Brian Darling is a Senior Fellow in Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling

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