Did the State Department Mislead Reporters on LOST?
Yesterday, Victoria Nuland, a spokesperson for the Department of State, appeared to mislead reporters when responding to a question on the administration’s renewed effort to ratify the long-stalled Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
Here is the relevant exchange:
QUESTION: Is this why this timing? Is this about the South China Sea dispute?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think you know that for many years the Administration has supported the Law of the Sea Treaty. We are working with the Congress now on a new push to see what we can do. And we think that we’ve always honored it in practice, so we think it would be a good thing for the United States if we could ratify it ourselves, but we also think it serves as a very good underpinning to help in mutual understanding and some rules of the road on these kinds of issues. (emphasis added)
Presumably, Ms. Nuland was referring to maritime navigation when she uttered the phrase “we think that we’ve always honored it in practice.” But that characterization is likely misleading to any layperson since the controversial treaty deals with much more than navigational rights and freedoms.
Properly understood, the treaty is a mechanism to undermine America’s sovereignty and redistribute American dollars to an unaccountable international organization. It is not, as Ms. Nuland describes it, merely a mechanism to underpin our mutual understanding on maritime navigation.
As The Heritage Foundation’s Steven Groves points out, the treaty’s international wealth redistribution scheme is not something we’ve “always honored.” In fact, it would dramatically alter the distribution ofAmerica’s oil and gas royalties:
Membership in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would alter U.S. law and current practice for the worse. If the United States joined the convention, it would be required to transfer a portion of the royalty revenue generated on the U.S. extended continental shelf (the shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from shore) to the International Seabed Authority in Kingston, Jamaica. The Authority is empowered to distribute those funds–considered international royalties–to developing and landlocked nations, including some that are corrupt, undemocratic, or even state sponsors of terrorism.
Ms. Nuland’s mischaracterization of the treaty–intentional or not–fits a disturbing pattern of treaty proponents downplaying the treaty’s negative consequences. In truth, America has much to lose under this new regime. A new, U.N.-style international bureaucracy with mandatory dispute resolution capable of jeopardizingAmerica’s economic interests is not the status quo Ms. Nuland describes, but rather an egregious erosion of sovereignty that we must stop before it is too late.