Will Law of the Sea Treaty Sink or Swim?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 11, 2005 | Go to article overview

Will Law of the Sea Treaty Sink or Swim?


Byline: Thomas P. Kilgannon, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

When Sen. John Kerry declared in the last presidential campaign that U.S. foreign policy needed to pass a "global test" before it could be carried out, the Bush administration correctly denounced and derided him. America's national security is too important, President Bush explained, to put in the hands of the United Nations Security Council.

The administration has also argued that the fate of American servicemen is too important to entrust to a global tribunal in the form of the International Criminal Court.

But at the other end of the spectrum, the Bush administration, like others before it, is perfectly happy to allow the U.N.'s World Trade Organization to effectively dictate America's international commerce.

So what is the administration's policy on the U.N.'s Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), which would hand over control of the seas and oceans to yet another international institution of the United Nations? There is speculation Mr. Bush himself opposes the treaty, but all evidence points to the contrary.

During October 2003 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings, William Taft, a State Department legal adviser, testified the Bush administration "recommends that the Senate give its advice and consent to accession to the convention and ratification of the agreement" because the treaty "represents the highest priority of U.S. international oceans policy."

Mark Esper, defense deputy assistant secretary for negotiation policy, echoed those comments, saying the administration "strongly supports" the Law of the Sea Treaty.

In her recent confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice was asked by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Dick Lugar if the administration favors ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. The president, Miss Rice said, "would certainly like to see it pass as soon as possible ... and we very much want to see it go into force."

The president needs to take another look at this document, which was rejected by Ronald Reagan. During his presidency, Mr. Bush has displayed a healthy skepticism about the U.N.'s ability to manage complex programs. It would be a major setback to allow the Senate to ratify this treaty, which would violate American sovereignty and damage national security.

"The sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to this convention," the document states in Article 2, thus giving the U.N. control of seas, oceans and their natural resources. …

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