Known in Washington as the Law of the Sea Treaty, Democrats are moving to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which looks to set global regulations for international waters. Foreign Policy reports:
The Obama administration and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) are beginning a new push to seek ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, known around Washington simply as the Law of the Sea Treaty.
The treaty, which came into force in 1994, established rules of the road for operating in international waters and set forth a regime for determining mineral and other rights beneath the ocean floor. Since then, 161 countries have signed on, as well as the European Union, but the U.S. Senate has not ratified it.
First proposed in 1982, the treaty has never come up for a full vote in Congress. Ronald Reagan refused to sign it for fears of what it might do to American sovereignty. In 1994, President Clinton signed a revised version of the bill but the Senate has never ratified it. In 2007, President George W. Bush endorsed the treaty, prompting objections from Senate Republicans. While seemingly reasonable at face value, CNS News reports on some of the treaty's fine print that has led to strong opposition on the matter:
Article 82 would require certain members to transfer a portion of royalties from use of the sea’s natural resources to the International Seabed Authority in Kingston, Jamaica. For the United States, resources located on the U.S. continental shelf – defined as 200 nautical miles or more from the shore – reportedly could be worth billions. So, if the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, the country would be required to transfer part of royalties from drilling for oil and other activities to the ISA.
Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry leads proponents of the treaty who say it “will allow the United States to secure mineral rights in a larger geographical area, would ensure freedom of navigation for U.S. ships, and would give the country better leverage for claims in the Arctic.” Opponents led by Sen. Jim DeMint argue like President Reagan that the United States sovereignty would be subjugated and that the wealth of developed nations would be redistributed to less developed nations.
The treaty was the focus of Monday's opening discussion on "Real News"