Battle Looms in House on Law of the Sea Treaty

Today, the House will vote on an amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC) that would ensure taxpayer dollars are not spent to implement the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).  The treaty is an unnecessary and fatally-flawed pact that would radically alter American law and allow an international organization based in Jamaica to erode our sovereignty.

Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham made clear “America cannot afford yet another foreign policy mistake, which is why Heritage Action opposes the dangerously-flawed treaty and will work vigorously with our allies to ensure its defeat.”  To that end, Heritage Action supports (key vote) the Duncan Amendment.

In a sign that opposition to LOST is growing, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – a vocal supporter of the treaty – is warning lawmakers in a letter that they “strongly” oppose the Duncan Amendment and “may consider votes on, or in relation to, this amendment in our annual How They Voted scorecard.”

While the Senate is constitutionally charged with ratifying treaties (something they have wisely avoided on LOST for three decades), implementation of the treaty is a bicameral effort.  And more immediately, the vote will set the narrative for Senator John Kerry’s (D-MA) committee hearing next week.

The treaty is not simply something “that we’ve always honored it in practice,” as a State Department spokeswoman misleadingly claimed.  Before lawmakers vote, they should know:

  • LOST creates the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a new, UN-style organization based in Kingston, Jamaica that would be dominated by anti-US interests;
  • Article 82 of the treaty requires the US to transfer significant offshore energy royalties to the ISA, which is then empowered to redistribute those funds to developing countries, even if they are undemocratic or state sponsors of terrorism;
  • Part XV of the treaty requires the US to engage in mandatory dispute resolution, paving the way for reckless and politically motivated allegations from hostile interests;
  • Contrary to popular belief, the treaty was not fixed in 1994; and,
  • For more than 200 years, America has successfully preserved and protected its navigational rights and freedoms by relying on naval operations, diplomatic protests, and customary international law.

By adopting the Duncan Amendment, House lawmakers can stand firmly on the side of more freedom and less international governance.  As an added benefit, leadership on good policy makes for good politics.

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