Friday, January 18, 2008

Vitter Calls for Full Examination of Law of the Sea Treaty

Senator Vitter Delivers Speech on Law of the Sea Treaty

Press Release

Office of U.S. Senator David Vitter

November 13, 2007 -

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sen. David Vitter again today voiced his concerns with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, speaking out against key provisions on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Vitter has repeatedly called for a further and more thorough review of LOST before it is voted on by the U.S. Senate, and despite its recent approval by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs he has remained an outspoken critic of the treaty’s potential impact on the United States.

“The impact of this treaty on American sovereignty and security cannot be understated. Ratifying LOST would signal our intent to hand a portion of our national security matters over to the United Nations and similar international bodies – which are not accountable to any higher authority and often hold less than friendly views of the United States,” said Vitter.

LOST carves the sea into zones and, in certain cases, dictates what actions sovereign states may be permitted to engage in under its terms, including those relating to national security, science, trade and the environment. These restrictive activities, and the strengthening of powers granted to the United Nations by the treaty, are among some of Sen. Vitter’s principal concerns.

“LOST attempts to govern the use of the seabed, the airspace above it and the topsoil below it – infringing on the ability of sovereign nations to explore the oceans, conduct scientific research or collect military intelligence vital to national defense. It also allows international courts and tribunals to define what constitutes U.S. ‘military’ or ‘intelligence-gathering activities,’ a subjective power that could routinely lead America into disputes with other nations,” Vitter added.

“This “lawfare” holds grave repercussions for our rights as a country and provides the U.N. with simply too much authority over American interests and concerns,” Vitter said.

Vitter has repeatedly called for further debate on this issue and recently sent letters to the U.S. Senate Committees on Environment and Public Works and Foreign Relations requesting that a panel of experts from present and past administrations be allowed to appear before the committees to answer detailed questions from the members. Vitter also noted that previous questions raised by senators have not yet been adequately addressed.

International treaties must be ratified by the U.S. Senate and LOST must receive full Senate floor consideration before being formalized. It was approved by the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs last month by a vote of 17-4, with Vitter being only one of four who voted in opposition to the treaty.

“LOST holds significant, unseen consequences for the United States and could affect our sovereignty and environmental and commercial policies. This treaty needs to be reviewed carefully, and we need a full and open debate on its merits and flaws before moving forward,” said Vitter.

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