Be Forewarned about Sovereignty-Diminishing Treaties

Posted: Feb 13, 2006 3:12 PM

Many Americans took heart in 1940 when the British gamely battled Germany. Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill addressed his nation on June 4 and vowed: "Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail." France was engaged in the fight at that time, but its leaders lacked the determination never to surrender as demonstrated by Churchill. Within weeks France would agree to an armistice with Nazi Germany. Churchill meant it when he promised that Great Britain would fight to the end to avoid being ruled by an alien power and, despite the dark days to come when the Luftwaffe bombed Britain, the British withstood their German foe.

Britain and other European nations once again may be waging a fight to retain their sovereignty from a European power with expansive designs of power. The b?te noiré is not an armed, aggressive state but a supranational body that promotes Politically Correct ideology in its attempt to subdue the sovereignty of European nations. The agenda of the European Commission ("EC"), the body charged with "represent[ing] the European interest common to all Member States of the Union," may sound attractive but thank heavens there are at least some British politicians who realize the true implications of what is sought.

Anthony Browne of THE LONDON TIMES reported on November 24, 2005, "The European Commission listed seven offences that it insisted should become European crimes immediately, including computer hacking, corporate fraud, people-trafficking and marine pollution. The ruling means that for the first time in legal history, a British government and Parliament will no longer have the sovereign right to decide what constitutes a crime and what the punishment should be." Possible future crimes include racial discrimination and intellectual property theft.

By all means every crime listed above indeed should be matters of serious concern of our country and of other countries. (The racial discrimination issue would be a crime were it to involve the government but it is less clear were it to involve individuals.) The question is where the power should reside to determine what is unlawfulness and to assess penalties.

The European Court of Justice issued a ruling in September on environmental law. The decision, as explained in a news release issued by the Court, held:

"Although, as a general rule, neither criminal law nor the rules of criminal procedure fall within the Community's competence, that does not prevent the Community legislature, when the application of effective, proportionate and dissuasive criminal penalties by the competent national authorities is an essential measure for combating serious environmental authorities, from taking measures that relate to the criminal law of the Member States which it considers necessary in order to ensure that the rules which it lays down on environmental protection are fully effective."

The European Commission issued a ruling on its "interpretation" of the Court of Justice ruling, which it described as "the exclusive competence" of the Community to determine criminal laws that are relevant to "ensure the "effectiveness of Community law." The memo released by the Commission explained that the ruling extends beyond environmental law to "the whole range of Community policies."

This means that the European Commission has the right to propose new criminal laws and EU member states will need to enact such laws or be commanded so to do by the European Court of Justice. Browne wrote that a Commission lawyer said it was "very unlikely" that a British citizen could be jailed for violations of European "law" not considered a crime by Britain. However, note that it is not impossible and that the decision over whether to penalize violators of EC law would be left to the European Court of Justice.

Timothy Kirkhope, leader of the Conservative delegation to the European Parliament, adheres to a philosophy of having Britain participate "In Europe, Not run by Europe. Conservative MEPs fight for Britain in Brussels, not for Brussels in Britain."

Kirkhope made clear his disenchantment with the Commission ruling, declaring that it represented "a serious blow to our [i.e., Britain's] right to decide these matters for ourselves."

Americans who believe in the sovereignty of nations must hope that Great Britain and other European nations will fight to retain the independence of their legal systems from encroachment by the European Commission. It is not merely European nations the sovereignty of which is endangered by supranational bodies.

The bureaucrats who run the United Nations and many of its member states clearly are interested in expanding the powers of Big Blue. They see a stronger UN with the power to regulate and tax as a means to redistribute the wealth of the developed world to the Third World. That is why our own State Department is fighting efforts to place the UN in control of the Internet. Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Representative John T. Doolittle (R-CA) have been leaders in defending continued United States control. No other invention has empowered more people in both the developed world and Third World. That has been because regulation has been so sparing. Hand control of the Internet over to the UN and its bully states, namely Red China and Iran, which like to censor communications, and this magnificent invention that promotes freedom throughout the world would be subverted.

Consider the Law of the Sea Treaty ("LOST"). Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-IN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was intent on ramming this treaty through his committee, with a hearing stacked with proponents of LOST. Fortunately, Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK), the foremost defender of American sovereignty in the Senate, blew the whistle. President Ronald W. Reagan realized its dangers in 1982 when he declined to sign LOST. A fix attempted during the Clinton years was purely cosmetic, masking the real pitfalls it holds for our country.

The body that administers LOST, the International Seabed Authority, would be empowered to tax American citizens. Run afoul of LOST and the Law of the Sea Tribunal would judge us. We may have a United States member serving on the tribunal but we have no guaranteed, continuous representation. More disturbing, the odds are very strong that countries with an anti-American agenda would outvote us. The Tribunal operates on one country-one vote.

Consider also the Cybercrime Treaty. The Treaty covers much more than hacking or purveying Internet porn. There is legitimate concern that the treaty would require the United States to enforce laws of countries that run counter to the Bill of Rights. The Treaty covers any crime involving a computer. The "political exceptions" that we are allowed have not been spelled out, and with the further danger that they would change from administration to administration.

Right now only a small number of largely Eastern European countries have ratified the Treaty. Germany, France, Britain and Italy have yet to do so. Despite the slowness of these countries to ratify the Cybercrime Convention, Senator Lugar held a stacked hearing in June 2004 and the Foreign Relations Committee voted to refer the Treaty to the Senate this summer without having held any substantive debate. The Treaty was slated to be rushed through the Senate to the desk of President Bush for his signature.

Once again Senator Inhofe stepped into the breach, placing a hold on the Treaty's consideration, which means an attempt to have the Senate vote on the treaty could trigger a filibuster.

The British politicians and diplomats who are willing to stand up for their nation's sovereignty against the onslaught of the European supranational justice and parliamentary systems are setting an example from which our own politicians and diplomats could profit. Defenders of American sovereignty and the Bill of Rights owe Senator Inhofe appreciation not only for his willingness to take on LOST but his effort to ensure the Senate does not rush to ratify the Cybercrime Convention without thorough consideration of its implications. Too often the Senate has essentially rubber-stamped treaties without giving due consideration to the fine print. There is plenty of fine print in both LOST and the Cybercrime Convention and the Senate needs to perform a thorough job of considering the impact of these treaties on our sovereignty.

Not every threat to American sovereignty derives from armed aggressors such as Churchill confronted. Too many Americans were raised believing that foreign countries which control supranational bodies have extended us good will out of gratitude for the vital role we have played in promoting freedom and democracy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fortunately, some select leaders - Senator Inhofe and UN Ambassador John Bolton stand out - who realize that the world is indeed a dangerous place and it's not just bullets that can destroy our American way of life. Sovereignty-diminishing treaties would be just as harmful.