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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The LOST Sinkhole

This treaty must not be ratified by the United States Senate. Call your Senator and tell him/her to vote NO. - Reggie

George Will
WASHINGTON -- There they go again. Like those who say climate change is an emergency too obvious and urgent to allow for debate, some proponents of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, aka the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), say arguments against it are nonexistent. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says any such arguments "no longer exist and truly cannot even be taken with a straight face." Favoring condescension over persuasion, she ridicules people who she says think that because the treaty was negotiated under U.N. auspices, "the black helicopters are on their way."

Clinton's insufferable tone is not a reason for the necessary 34 senators to reject ratification. It is, however, a reason for enjoying their doing so.

LOST, approval of which is supposedly somehow suddenly imperative, emerged from the mists of U.N. deliberations that began in the 1950s. The result, three generations later, is pernicious when it is not superfluous.

For centuries there has been a law of the sea. There might be marginal benefits from LOST's clarifications and procedures for resolving disputes arising from that law -- although China and the nations involved in contentious disputes about the South China Sea have all ratified LOST, not that it seems to matter. But those hypothetical benefits are less important than LOST's actual derogation of American sovereignty by empowering a U.N. bureaucracy -- the International Seabed Authority, based in Jamaica -- to give or withhold permission for mining, and to transfer perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. wealth to whatever nation it deems deserving -- "on the basis of equitable sharing criteria, taking into account the interests and needs of developing states, particularly the least developed and the land-locked among them."

Royalties paid by nations with the talent and will for extracting wealth from the seabed will go to nations that have neither, on the principle that what is extracted from 56 percent of the earth's surface is, the U.N. insists, "the common heritage of mankind." And never mind U.S. law, which says that wealth gained from the continental shelf -- from which the ISA would seek royalty payments - is supposed to be held by the U.S. government for the benefit of the American people.

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