If the U.S. does not ratify UNCLOS, it risks losing the remaining three possible seabed mining sites, with billions in the strategic minerals manganese, copper, cobalt and nickel at stake. A single seabed mining operation would spur the economy with total capital purchases of close to one and a half billion dollars and would stimulate robust job creation.
- Race for seabed mineral wealth taking off worldwide
- U.S. stake in emerging deep seabed mining industry could be worth as much as $1 trillion annually
- US missing out on tremendous economic gain from exploiting oil, gas, and mineral resources outside EEZ
- U.S. non-party status to UNCLOS is harming U.S. economy by constraining resource mining and underseas cables industries
- Potential mineral wealth in seabed exceeds existing land deposits
If the U.S. accedes to UNCLOS, it will be required pursuant to Article 82 to transfer royalties generated on the U.S. continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles (nm)—an area known as the “extended continental shelf” (ECS)—to the International Seabed Authority.
- UNCLOS requires mineral extraction companies pay royalties to ISA to be redistributed
- US accession to UNCLOS would obligate to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars of royalties to ISA
- US offshore oil development could generate $92 billion in royalty payments for US treasury over next 50 year
- UNCLOS obligates member nations to pay upwards of 7% in royalties for development of mineral and energy resources
- Under UNCLOS billions of dollars in royalties for offshore oil development would shift to ISA instead of to US revenue
- U.S. currently collects billions of dollars in royalties on outer continental shelf resource development which would go ISA under UNCLOS
- Mining companies have incentive to over develop resource in inefficient manner to avoid paying higher royalty share
By ratifying UNCLOS, the U.S. would be subjecting its resource extraction industries to control by the United Nations. Furthermore, these industries would be assessed a royalty fee on these resources that the International Seabed Authority would redistribute to other states, possibly counter to U.S. national security interests.
- Law of Sea structure still favors discredited and corrupt redistributionist model for foreign aid
- Actual royalty rate has yet to be determined, leaving US companies vulnerable to exorbitant costs
- Land-based mineral mining countries possess equivalent voting rights to the US in ISA
- Voting in ISA already beset by corruption and vote dilution
- UNCLOS would create new international authority for a massive and unprecedented transfer of wealth
- UNCLOS obligates states that mine the seabed to provide funds to subsidize its land-based competitors
- Under UNCLOS, U.S. revenues from offshore resource extraction would be redistributed to non-desirable state actors
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would give United Nations ability to impose tax on U.S. citizens
- UNCLOS participation would require U.S. to transfer significant royalties to International Seabed Authority
UNCLOS is silent on how UNCLOS nations that receive Article 82 royalty revenue should spend it. Recipients are apparently free to spend the funds on military expenditures or simply deposit them into the personal bank accounts of national leaders.
- UNCLOS bureaucracy would redistribute money to dictatorships and be managed by corrupt and unaccountable U.N.
- U.S. seat on ISA board won't necessarily prevent article 82 revenue from going to our adversaries and dictatorships
- UNCLOS has no restrictions on how recipient nations under article 82 have to spend the money
- Article 82 redistribution payments could be used to prop up corrupt governments
The U.S. safeguard against such transfers becomes operative through the interaction of the convention and the 1994 agreement. Convention Article 161, paragraph 8(d) requires consensus of the ISA council to distribute economic benefits, pursuant to Article 162. Section 3, paragraph 15(a) of the annex to the 1994 agreement provides the United States a permanent seat on the council by virtue of being the largest economy on the date of entry into force of the convention.
Opponents of UNCLOS often point to the royalty payments required under Article 82 of the convention as a reason to reject ratifcation. However, on closer examination many of the criticisms of the revenue sharing agreeements do not hold up. The actual amount the U.S. would have to pay pales in comparison to the revenues that would be generated, a significant reason why industry represenatives have consistently been in favor of UNCLOS. Additionally, the concern that royalty payments would go towards anti-U.S. states and non-state actors could be mitigated if the U.S.
- Royalties U.S. has to pay on mineral and hydrocarbon worth it given the extraordinary benefits U.S. would gain
- Revenue sharing arrangement of UNCLOS is insignificant compared to value of resources and was negotiated with support of oil and gas industry
- U.S. foreign aid could be used to offset any required transfers to states, eliminating any tax burden
- Modest revenue sharing system in UNCLOS will not pose any burden on extracting industries and is in U.S. best interests
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In 1994, the U.S. and other developed nations lobbied and won a number of significant concessions and amendments to UNCLOS that addressed the concerns that previous administrations had with the treaty, including provisions over tech transfer and resource sharing.
- Treaty modifications in 1994 addressed national security concerns over technology transfer provisions
- The 1994 agreement explicitly resolved issues that Reagan administration had with UNCLOS
- The 1994 agreement resolved U.S. concerns over deep seabed mining
- All issues with Deep Seabed Mining identified by President Reagan in 1983 have been remedied in subsequent 1994 agreement
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Many of the most onerous provisions of UNCLOS were left in place even after the 1994 amendment, including provisions on technology transfer and wealth distribution.
- 1994 Agreement has not changed intent of International Seabed Authority
- Pernicious effect of technology transfer provision still in effect even after 1994 agreement
- 1994 Agreement does not give U.S. a true veto in the International Seabed Authority
- US should unsign 1994 agreement to resolve legal ambiguity over its actions
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Deep seabed mining could have serious impacts on the ocean environment and the future livelihoods and well being of coastal communities. An international, multi-sector approach to management and protection, similar to that under development by the International Seabed Authority under UNCLOS, is needed, if we are to ensure the health and sustainable use of our oceans.
- Deep seabed mining could destroy valuable biodiversity that hasn't even been discovered yet
- Deep seabed environment is a critical ecosystem that needs to be protected
- Deep seabed mining can devastate fish stocks by disrupting the seamounts they depend on
- Seabed mining can have a significant impact on fragile ecosystems
- Light and noise pollution from mingling operations could disrupt fragile ecosystems
- Interest in seabed mining is growing but not enough attention is being paid to the environmental impacts
- Independent analysis shows deep seabed mining more environmentally friendly than land-based alternatives
U.S. is bound to the "common heritage of mankind" principle through customary international law as it has accepted it in numerous previous treaties and has even included it in domestic seabed mining legislation.