UNCLOS environmental provisions do not make sense anymore with the new threat of global terrorism
But even more importantly, the Treaty and its environmental provisions and the context they were negotiated in are relics of an earlier era -- an era where environmental damage was presumed to be accidental or incidental to economic activity. The current post-9/11 era, however, is defined by the non-conventional use of all tools available to a non-state or state-sponsored terrorist, or proxy warrior, to create a weapon of mass destruction. The very environment we cherish and this Committee seeks to protect and preserve is a likely battleground in this new era. The presumptions that underlie the environmental provisions of the Law of the Sea Treaty and other key elements of the document are woefully inadequate to meet the threats facing the United States in this very dangerous unconventional post-9/11 world.
We have ample evidence of terrorists targeting maritime commerce as a means of waging their worldwide attacks. A critical aspect of their planning is to cause as much environmental degradation as is possible. For terrorists with limited means or desire to engage in, or sustain, combat operations this is a lucrative area for them to attack the West. This method of fighting turns traditional Western war fighting doctrine – based upon limiting collateral damage as much as humanly possible -- on its head. Terrorists and their State Sponsors have high regard for the environment but, unfortunately, they see it as a “force multiplier” not as a treasure to be preserved. Recall the oil well fires in Kuwait set by Saddam’s retreating troops. Hideous environmental and health effects resulted from intentionally using the natural resources as a weapon. Recall the terrorist attack on the French oil tanker Limburg (October 10, 2002) carrying 158,000 tons of crude oil where the goal was to generate as large an oil spill as possible.