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October 29, 2007
The Senate is currently considering ratification of a new United Nations "Law of the Sea" treaty (LOST) that many believe would be a blow to our sovereignty as well as our ability to protect ourselves on the world's oceans.
In today's National Review, John Fonte has an excellent overview of the treaty as well as a preview of some of the consequences:
Under UNCLOS, disputes between the United States and other parties are settled by “mandatory” (i.e., forced) arbitration. The final decisions are made either by a permanent International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg or by an ad-hoc court. The Hamburg tribunal consists of 21 judges chosen by member nations, many of them unfriendly to the United States. An ad-hoc court would consist of five judges, two chosen by the U.S., two chosen by the other party. The crucial fifth judge is chosen either by the secretary general of the United Nations or the Hamburg tribunal. The decisions are “final” and “binding” with no appeal. The US has had similar objections to the International Criminal Court - that it infringes on our sovereignty as well as endangering our interests thanks to the anti-American attitude of many of our potential "judges."
International-law professor Jeremy Rabkin points out that when the Cambodian communists seized the USS Mayaguez in Cambodian waters in 1975, President Ford responded with military force to rescue American sailors and free the ship. He notes this type of action would be problematic under UNCLOS. For example, if a treaty signatory (e.g., China, Burma) seized a U.S. ship in its home waters, under the terms of Law of the Sea Treaty, the U.S. could not free her sailors by force, but would have to submit to mandatory arbitration by the Hamburg tribunal or an ad-hoc court, where the U.S. could very likely lose the case. In any event, vital decisions over American security and American lives would not be made by Americans, but by foreign judges, many of them unsympathetic to American interests (coming as they often do from third-world regimes or EU legal elites).
Read the rest of Fonte's article for more background on this sneak attack on our sovereignty.