The U.S. Should Not Ratify the UN Law of the Sea Treaty


The Law of the Sea Treaty is causing prosecution questions in an India-Italy incident where two fishermen were killed. Moreover, with threats being made by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz, China disrupting the flow of maritime trade in the Philippines and North Korea encroaching on the boundaries of South Korea via the sea, now is definitely not the time for the United States to become part of a United Nations regulatory commission.

Ratification by the Senate for the United Nations’ Law of the Sea Treaty will be addressed this spring. Rejected by President Ronald Reagan in 1978 who stated, “No national interest of the United States can justify handing sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth’s surface over to the Third World,” the implementation of this treaty would be devastating to our country. As recently as February 17, Representatives Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) outlining their concerns for the U.S. should this treaty become ratified. The ratification of this treaty would be extremely detrimental to the United States capitalistic endeavors, environmental controls, and our security and freedom. 

In addition to American taxpayers covering 25% of the International Seabed Authority’s budget, The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) would give the UN the power to redistribute the wealth obtained from U.S. operations in international waters. Contractors would be levied taxes termed “application fees” to the tune of $1 million annually (Annex III, Article 13, Paragraphs 2 and 3) and $250,000 each time they would want to “explore or exploit” the seas (Annex Section 8, Paragraph 3). The UN treaty also requires the U.S. to share information and technology with other countries.  The treaty would allow the Sea-Bed Authority (of 161 nations) to have jurisdiction over all coastal waters up to 12 nautical miles from our shores “to foster healthy development of world economy” (Bernaerts’ Guide to the 1982 UN Convention on LOST).   

Additionally, though the environmentalists will act out against U.S. companies for offshore drilling, what will they do against countries such as Cuba (who is already drilling in the Florida straits only 56 miles off the coast of Florida!)? Coral reefs supply food for approximately 25% of ocean species. Allowing other countries to have access to U.S. waters could affect our competitive and capitalistic edge on tourism and scientific study. So, potentially Cuba could drill alongside of our beaches regardless of any environmental or economic impact on the U.S. and we would have no recourse against them or other nations butting up to our scarcely protected sea-rimmed borders.

I find the potential ratification of this treaty most threatening with current events indicating potential military action involving Israel and Iran: Article 20 of the Law of the Sea Treaty “requires U.S. submarines to travel on the surface and show their flags while sailing within territorial waters.” The U.S. currently has freedom to sail the seas via customary international practice (Heritage Foundation, Web Memo No. 1638). As you are reading this, China and North Korea are building their militaries. Iran is gaining on their development of nuclear technology. It is imperative that our sovereignty be maintained to continue to protect our country and collect necessary intelligence. The security and freedom of U.S. citizens both home and abroad depend on this.

President Barack Obama is already prepared to have this treaty ratified. He put his Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to the charge of reporting on resources and benefits of being part of this UN organization. In July of 2010 he formed the National Ocean Council in final preparation for the United States’ accession to Law of the Sea Treaty. Be aware that the U.S. would have only one vote and no veto power over the 161 nations who have already signed. Iran and North Korea have not signed the Treaty as well as at least 32 other nations.

Many have researched and written detailed contraindications to the ratification of this treaty. The many non-U. S. interest- based prospects of the Law of the Sea Treaty could further alter the security, environmental and economical face of America. With so much going on internationally as well as on our domestic front, we need to pay close attention to the potential ratification process of this treaty and work to prevent it. If we lose this one, America is certainly one step closer to becoming LOST.

Photo Credit: United Nations Photo