The U.N.’s Big Power Grab

If Americans have learned anything about the United Nations over the last 50 years, it is that this “world body” is, at best, riddled with corruption and incompetence. At worst, its bureaucracy, agencies and members are overwhelmingly hostile to the United States and other freedom-loving nations, most especially Israel.

So why on earth would the United States Senate possibly consider putting the U.N. on steroids by assenting to its control of seven-tenths of the world’s surface?

Such a step would seem especially improbable given such well-documented fiascoes as: the U.N.-administered Iraq Oil-for-Food program; investigations and cover-ups of corrupt practices at the organization’s highest levels; child sex-slave operations and rape squads run by U.N. peacekeepers; and the absurd, yet relentless, assault on alleged Israeli abuses of human rights by majorities led by despotic regimes in Iran, Cuba, Syria and Libya.

Nonetheless, the predictable effect of U.S. accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea – better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (or LOST) – would be to transform the U.N. from a nuisance and laughingstock into a world government: The United States would confer upon a U.N. agency called the International Seabed Authority (IA) the right to dictate what is done on, in and under the world’s oceans. Doing so, America would become party to surrender of immense resources of the seas and what lies beneath them to the dictates of unaccountable, nontransparent multinational organizations, tribunals and bureaucrats.

LOST’s most determined proponents have always been the one-worlders – members of the World Federalists Association (now dubbed Citizens for Global Solutions) and like-minded advocates of supranational government. They have made no secret of their ambition to use the Law of the Sea Treaty as a kind of “constitution of the oceans” and prototype for what they want to do on land, as well.

Specifically, the transnationalists (or Transies) understand LOST would set a precedent for diminishing, and ultimately eliminating, sovereign nations. It would establish the superiority of international mechanisms for managing not just “the common heritage of mankind,” but everything that could affect it.

In the case of LOST, such a supranational arrangement is particularly enabled by the treaty’s sweeping environmental obligations. State parties promise to “protect and preserve the marine environment.” Since ashore activities – from air pollution to runoff that makes its way into a given nation’s internal waters – can ultimately affect the oceans, however, the U.N.’s big power grab would also allow it to exercise authority over land-based actions of heretofore sovereign nations.

Unfortunately, the Senate has been misled on this point by the Bush administration. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte claimed in testimony before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee last Thursday that the treaty has “no jurisdiction over marine pollution disputes involving land-based sources.” He insisted, “That’s just not covered by the treaty.” Worse yet, State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger, said, “[LOST] clearly does not allow regulation over land-based pollution sources. That would stop at the water’s edge.”

Thank goodness for Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, who caustically observed, if that were true, “Why is there a [LOST] section entitled ‘Pollution from Land-Based sources?’ ” He went on to note there is not only a section by that name, but a subsequent section on enforcement concerning such pollution.

Few senators have more immediate reason to worry about LOST’s dire implications for our sovereignty than Mr. Vitter and his Democratic colleague, Mary Landrieu. It is inconceivable that their state’s crown jewel, New Orleans, would be in business today – even in its diminished, post-Katrina condition – had the United States been subject to this Treaty when that devastating hurricane hit Louisiana and Mississippi.

Enforcement of the unprecedented commitment not to pollute the marine environment can be compelled via LOST’s mandatory dispute resolution mechanisms. The U.N.’s Law of the Sea Tribunal is empowered to “prescribe any provisional measures” in order “to prevent serious harm to the marine environment.” States parties are required to “comply promptly with any [such] provisional measures.”

Surely, the sovereign act taken in an emergency situation – which dumped into the Gulf of Mexico vast quantities of toxic waste that had accumulated in Lake Pontchartrain after Katrina – would have been enjoined in this manner. Does any senator want to assure such interference in our internal affairs in the future?

Scarcely more appetizing is LOST’s empowering of a U.N. agency to impose what amount to international taxes. To provide such an entity with a self-financing mechanism and the authority to distribute the ocean’s wealth in ways that suit the majority of its members and its international bureaucracy is a formula for unaccountability and corruption on an unprecedented scale.

To date, the full malevolent potential of the Law of the Sea Treaty has been more in prospect than in evidence. If the United States accedes to LOST, however, it is predictable that the treaty’s agencies will: wield their powers in ways that will prove very harmful to American interests; intensify the web of sovereignty-sapping obligations and regulations promulgated by this and other U.N. entities; and advance inexorably the emergence of supranational world government.

Twenty-five years ago, President Ronald Reagan declined to submit our sovereignty to the United Nations and rejected the Law of the Sea Treaty. If anything, there are even more compelling reasons today to prevent the U.N.’s big power grab.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is the founder, president, and CEO of The Center for Security Policy. During the Reagan administration, Gaffney was the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy, and a Professional Staff Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, chaired by Senator John Tower (R-Texas). He is a columnist for The Washington Times, Jewish World Review, and Townhall.com and has also contributed to The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.


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