Statement of Frank Gaffney: Hearing on the Law of the Sea Convention (October 4, 2007)
The same is likely to true of the Internet – an immeasurably important engine of American technological and commercial competitiveness and, increasingly, a key component of U.S. national security. Other countries have already demanded global Internet regulation. For example, in March 2005, China’s ambassador to the United Nations called for international management of the Internet. Seven months later, the UN hosted a conference at which many delegates insisted on an end to this country’s exclusive control over the assignment of web addresses and e-mail accounts, in favor of having such roles performed by one or more UN agencies.
The problems with such an arrangement are obvious. The Washington Post pointed out that any such agencies would inevitably be caught between free societies that want low barriers to Internet access, and countries such as China and Saudi Arabia, that insist on limiting access. The Post went on to observe: “These clashes of vision would probably make multilateral regulation inefficiently political.” As it happens, the same is true of LOST – and would certainly apply with devastating effect to the Internet if LOST becomes the template for multilateral management of the ether’s “international commons.”
LOST is a vast and complex undertaking, with obligations and implications that go far beyond the codification of common navigation rights and arrangements that were the initial impetus for the Treaty.
We cannot safely ignore the fact that, during its negotiation, LOST became a vehicle for advancing an agenda promoted by the Soviet Union and so-called “non- aligned movement” during the 1970s, known as the New International Economic Order (NIEO). The NIEO was a classic “united front” effort aimed at undermining the economic and military power of the industrialized West – particularly the United States – in the name of a centrally planned, global redistribution of wealth to the benefit of developing nations.
Toward this end, LOST creates various supranational bodies to develop and enforce its provisions, complete with an executive branch, legislature and judiciary. These agencies operate on the basis of one-nation/one-vote – an arrangement that has proven in the United Nations and elsewhere to be highly disadvantageous to the United States.
Presumably, it is for these reasons that the 1994 Agreement does not explicitly amend LOST. Rather, the Agreement states that “The provisions of this Agreement and Part XI [of LOST] shall be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.”
At the time the Agreement was signed, a representative of the American ocean mining industry cited this shortcoming in testimony before Congress: “[The 1994 Agreement] does not even purport to amend the Convention. It establishes controlling ‘interpretive provisions’ that will control in the event of a dispute. This is not an approach that gives confidence to prospective investors in ocean mining.” (Emphasis added.)
Neither does the 1994 Agreement require any of the LOST tribunals to abide by the Agreement. This increases the likelihood that such panels, when hearing disputes between parties, will view LOST itself as the basis for resolving the dispute, and not the 1994 Agreement.
That is especially so since roughly sixteen percent of the parties to LOST – fully 25 member countries – have yet to sign the 1994 Agreement. It is far from clear on what basis these countries could be expected to view the Agreement’s purported revisions to the Treaty as legitimate. How, for instance, would resolutions be achieved in disputes between countries that are party to both LOST and the Agreement, on the one hand, and countries that are party only to LOST, on the other? At the very least, the latter could legitimately challenge claims by the United States (or others) to be bound by terms other than those contained in the Law of the Sea Treaty’s agreed text.
Mandatory Technology Transfers: Although the 1994 Agreement purports to modify some troubling LOST provisions on the obligatory sharing of sensitive information and technologies, it fails to address, let alone alter, other coercive provisions. These include LOST’s requirement that states parties “promote the acquisition, evaluation and dissemination of marine technological knowledge and facilitate access to such information and data.”
Neither does the Agreement speak to LOST’s requirement to transfer information and perhaps technology pursuant to the Treaty’s mandatory dispute resolution mechanisms. Parties to a dispute are required to provide the tribunal with “all relevant documents, facilities and information.” This amounts to an invitation for competitors to bring the United States and/or its companies or adversaries before a LOST tribunal to obtain sensitive data and know-how. These are hardly the sorts of safeguards upon which President Reagan had insisted.
The Law of the Sea Treaty and its agencies are indisputably linked to the UN, both substantively and organizationally. What benefits one, benefits the other.
On the substantive plane, other UN agencies routinely promote treaties and regulations designed to build on and reinforce LOST’s importance and the authority of its agencies. A recent example is instructive: A report of a UN review conference on progress between 2004 and 2006 in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity “recognizes the United Nations General Assembly’s central role in addressing issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction.”
The report goes on to “recall that United Nations General Assembly Resolution 60/30 emphasized the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and reaffirmed that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, and that its integrity needs to be maintained, as recognized also by the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development....” (Emphasis added throughout.)
At a practical level, the ties between the UN and LOST are no less palpable. For example: All staff associated with LOST bodies are paid by the UN system. Day-to- day monitoring of activities regulated by LOST is conducted by UN staff employees. Employees of LOST-related agencies participate in the UN pension plan. And, under the terms of the Treaty, the UN Secretary General plays a direct role in choosing the fifth arbiter for five-person special arbitral tribunals that will hear disputes between parties to LOST. He also is responsible for convening conferences to amend the Treaty.
LOST’s Transnationalist architects have long sought to build up supranational agencies. This treaty allows them to do so in unprecedented ways by: conferring on LOST “organs” responsibility for regulating seven-tenths of the planet (i.e., the world’s oceans and the vast natural resources to be found in and below them); levying what are tantamount to international taxes; and imposing mandatory and un-appealable decisions in disputes that may arise involving parties to the Treaty.
To date, the full, malevolent potential of the Law of the Sea Treaty has been more in prospect than in evidence. Should the United States accede 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 being promulgated by this and other UN entities; and advance inexorably the emergence of supranational world government.
It may be that the only check on such undesirable outcomes is for the United States to remain a non-state party to LOST. The latitude such an arrangement affords America to observe Treaty provisions that are unobjectionable – without being bound by those that are – may not only be preferable for this country and its vital interests. It could also help spare other nations the less free, less prosperous and more onerous international order that will emerge if the Transnationalists have their way on the Law of the Sea Treaty.
Equally flawed is the proponents’ insistence that Law of the Sea Treaty tribunals will be unable to interfere with U.S. military activities. Although LOST exempts “disputes concerning military activities” from the purview of its dispute resolution mechanisms, the Treaty does not define “military activities.”
Proponents of LOST argue that the United States can make a declaration that it will define “military activities” for itself. However, this amounts to a reservation to the treaty, which is expressly prohibited by LOST. LOST must be accepted or rejected in its entirety. Furthermore, if the U.S. military were allowed to make such a unilateral determination under LOST, the militaries of other nations would exercise the same option, creating an anarchic situation that would defeat the purposes of LOST altogether. LOST was clearly not intended to allow this to happen.
The United States is the nation with the most to lose – from an economic and national security point of view – from the sort of obligatory technology transfer provisions contained in the Law of the Sea Treaty, including those that would be binding even if the 1994 Agreement has effect.
America has long imposed unilateral export control restrictions precisely for the purpose of preventing transfers that will result in harm to this country. U.S. accession to LOST would require a substantial liberalization, if not wholesale scrapping, of such important self-defense measures.
Actual or potential competitors/adversaries like China, Russia, state-sponsors of terror and even European “allies” understand full well what a technology windfall U.S. adherence to LOST could represent. It would be irresponsible, not to say foolish in the extreme, to believe that none of these parties will take advantage of the opportunity to reap that windfall, to our very considerable detriment.
PSI is not compatible with LOST, despite proponents’ claims to the contrary. As a treaty, LOST is binding international law on the parties, whereas PSI is only an informal arrangement between certain nations, and carries no force as international law. The argument that PSI can be executed within the rules of LOST, even though LOST clearly prohibits boarding actions critical to PSI, ignores the fact that LOST outranks PSI in the hierarchy of international law.
As a result, unless one or more of the Treaty-approved circumstances for an at-sea intercept applies, LOST member states could be precluded from participating in such an action – even when there might be compelling evidence that nuclear or other WMD or their delivery systems were on board. As long as the United States continues not to be a LOST state party, it can always act unilaterally. That option, however, will be foreclosed, and our security possibly endangered as a result, if the Senate consents to the Treaty’s ratification.
In this connection, it must be noted that the Chinese and Russians have strenuously objected to the Proliferation Security Initiative, claiming that it violates LOST. They can be expected to seek mandatory dispute resolution of the matter should the United States become a state party. Should the ruling go against us, a critical tool in the nation’s effort to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and their delivery systems could be lost for good.
It is important to consider as part of the debate over U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Treaty whether that action would have implications for other so-called “international commons” such as Antarctica, the moon, Outer Space more generally and the Internet.
In fact, the logic of LOST – with its supranational order for the control of a medium used by more than one country – will inevitably be seized upon by America’s foes to demand similar arrangements be instituted for Outer Space or even the Internet. And U.S. ratification of LOST will make it difficult for the United States to argue against accepting binding arrangements for other “international commons.” It was for this reason that President Reagan’s Ambassador to the UN, the late Jeane Kirkpatrick, warned the Senate in 2004 not to consent to ratification of LOST, in part on the grounds that America’s interests in Outer Space could be adversely affected by the LOST precedent.