Whales Alive! - Vol. XIII No. 3 - July 2004
...CSI Lobbying EffortsOn April 28, at the request of the CSI Board of Directors, I went to Washington and personally visited the offices of five United States Senators to urge support for immediate Senate action on the UN Law of the Sea Treaty..."
Sen. Kerry looks for window to ratify Law of the S ea
By ALLISON WINTER, Greenwire
New York Times - Energy and Environment
May 7, 2009
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) is crafting a strategy to ratify the long-stalled Law of the Sea Treaty this year -- a move that ocean and foreign policy experts say is increasingly important as climate change reshapes the Arctic.
Kerry said this week that he is working to find time for a hearing and votes on the treaty, which governs navigation, fishing, economic development and environmental standards on the open seas.
"I hope we're ready to ratify it. I am going to do everything in my power, but I want to do it on the right schedule," Kerry told reporters. "We're sort of working through that process carefully."
His remarks came after a "roundtable" that the Foreign Relations Committee hosted to get advice on the Arctic from experts on the region, ocean conservation advocates and foreign policy strategists. Among the panelists' many recommendations to address the drastic changes in the Arctic economy and ecosystem, they listed the Law of the Sea as paramount.
"The sea ice is melting faster than policy can keep up with it," said Scott Borgerson, a former Coast Guard instructor who is now a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "First and foremost, my strongest recommendation is to finally get on with it -- it is high time that the U.S. finally accedes to the Law of the Sea."
He added: "At all the conferences we go to we have to defend -- and it's impossible to defend, why the U.S. is not party to this treaty."
More than 150 other nations have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. U.S. leaders have signed onto the agreement and the George W. Bush administration supported it, but several Senate conservatives have stymied its ratification.
Becoming a party to the 25-year-old international treaty would allow the United States to claim rights to mineral-rich portions of the Arctic seafloor. Experts told the Foreign Relations Committee that will be even more important as nations rush to make new claims in the Arctic.
[AS A MATTER OF CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW, INTERPRETED BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT CONSISTENT WITH THE UNCLOS, THE U.S. ALREADY HAS RECOGNIZED RIGHTS TO ALL MINERALS, OIL & GAS RESERVES AND MARINE GENETIC RESOURCES ON ITS CONTINENTAL SHELF AND WITHIN ITS 'EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE'. THE U.S. NEED NOT RATIFY THE UNCLOS TO ASSERT THESE CLAIMS. ANY SUCH STATEMENT IS PATENTLY FALSE.]
"It is very clear the U.S. has to be a part of the Law of the Sea," said David Carlson, director of the International Polar Year program office.
[WHY, MUST THE U.S. IMMEDIATELY RATIFY THE UNCLOS WITHOUT HOLDING PUBLIC HEARINGS, MR. CARLSON???]
Recent studies have shown that Arctic sea ice has receded rapidly in recent years, leading to concerns about conflicts over environmental protection, control of recently opened waterways and access to natural resources as nations scramble to exploit the resource-rich region.
Nations bordering the Arctic are already making claims on the oil, gas and mineral-rich territory, but several disputes have already arisen over competing claims and witnesses warned lawmakers that more disputes would likely arise if stronger international policies are not developed.
Getting the votes
The treaty, first negotiated in the 1980s, has garnered an impressive, wide-ranging list of supporters -- including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all living former chiefs of naval operations, four former secretaries of state, the heads of the American Petroleum Institute and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the governors of seven coastal states.
[THIS IS AN IMPRESSIVE LIST OF 'PERSONAGES'. BUT HOW MANY OF THEM KNOW VERY MUCH ABOUT THE PROVISIONS, REGULATIONS, PROTOCALS AND ANNEXES OF THE UNCLOS?? WE ARE CERTAIN THAT THERE ARE NOT MANY SUCH PERSONS.]
The treaty's backers are hopeful that after years of delay, the Senate may finally approve it this year.
Potentially helping it on that path is the solid Democratic majority in the Senate and advocates in the Obama administration. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said ratification is "long overdue" and will be a top priority. And Vice President Joe Biden was a major proponent of its ratification when he chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While the Bush administration gave its support to the treaty, lobbyists and lawmakers who support the Law of the Sea said they expect the Obama administration might be more active in pushing for its approval.
"[Biden] understands it, and I hope he's going to be very -- part of the game plan," Kerry said.
The treaty also has a major advocate on the Republican side in Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). At the roundtable earlier this week, the ranking member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee urged Kerry to schedule hearings on the treaty "expeditiously" and push the issue with the White House.
"I will help you," Murkowski told the chairman.
Kerry replied: "I hope you are going table to table in the Republican caucus."
[NEITHER KERRY NOR MURKOWSKI HAVE ANY RESPECT FOR THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, ITS BILL OF RIGHTS OR FOR AMERICANS AT LARGE. THEY ARE SELF-ABSORBED, POWER-HUNGRY POLITICIANS WHO BELIEVE THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW OF THE LAND.]
It would take 67 votes to ratify the treaty. If all of the Democrats voted in favor, Kerry would only need to find eight more Republicans at present. Advocates for the bill say there are easily 80 votes in support of ratification, but the problem is finding time for it on the Senate floor. They hope that given that 2009 is not an election year, lawmakers might find a window.
"It's not a question of getting the votes to approve it, it's a question of time ... it's a parliamentary issue at this point," said Caitlyn Antrim, who tracks the issue for Rule of Law Committee for the Oceans.
Kerry said his aides are assessing the Senate agenda, timing, availability of witnesses and President Obama's timing in an effort to come up with a schedule for ratifying the treaty.
The Republicans who oppose the treaty would likely use Senate procedure to prolong the debate, meaning it could take up to a week of floor time. Indeed, one of the more vocal opponents of the treaty, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), said in an interview this week that he would "do all I could" to block the measure if it came to the Senate floor.
"It's called sovereignty. We seem to be in such a hurry to give up our sovereignty to multinational organizations; the Law of the Sea certainly fits into that," Inhofe said.
The treaty provides a framework for protection of the marine environment and claims on energy resources. The polar region contains 22 percent of the world's undiscovered but technically recoverable oil and gas, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, with about 84 percent of those deposits located offshore.
[YES, MOST CLAIMS ARE LOCATED OFFSHORE, BUT WITHIN THE U.S. 'EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE' ALREADY RECOGNIZED AS BEING UNDER U.S. SOVEREIGN CONTROL BY THE WORLD. U.S. RATIFICATION OF THE UNCLOS WILL NOT CHANGE THIS.]
Among the countries that are already party to the treaty, there has been a recent rush in claims on the Arctic. The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf -- a body of specialized undersea geographers and hydrographers established under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention -- has seen its workload double from late last year, fulfilling its members' predictions of a backlog that could take years to resolve (Greenwire, April 13).
From 2001 through 2007, just nine claims were put forward as more advanced Law of the Sea Treaty countries surveyed their continental shelves. But since Japan issued its sweeping claim to Pacific Ocean territory last November, many smaller states have leaped into the fray. All told, the commission now has 36 applications.
[AND, THE COMMISSION IS ONLY STAFFED WITH PART-TIME EXPERTS WHO, ADMITTEDLY, ARE 'OVER THEIR HEADS' OR 'UNDER WATER' WITH COMPLEX CLAIMS. See: Continental Shelf Confusion Over Detritus Of The Deep, ITSSD Journal on the UN Law of the Sea Convention (March 2008) at:
Kerry said he has a personal interest in the issues facing the Arctic and recognizes the need for swift action: "This is very interesting to me. It is very challenging, but it is also very urgent. We need to get on this fast."
[YES. KERRY HAS A PERSONAL INTEREST IN ENSURING THAT THE U.S. ADOPTS EUROPE'S PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AS U.S. LAW, WHICH WILL HAVE THE EFFECT OF ABRIDGING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION AND ITS ACCOMPANYING BILL OF RIGHTS, ESPECIALLY THE RIGHT TO PROTECT PRIVATE PROPERTY.]
Copyright 2009 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved.
LOST and Found: Senate Moves Toward Ratification of U.N.'s 'Law of the Sea Treaty'
The Senate is gearing up to ratify a decades-old U.N. treaty that critics warn could create a massive U.N. bureaucracy that could even claim powers over American waterways.
By Joseph Abrams
Thursday, March 12, 2009
The Senate is gearing up to ratify a Nixon-era U.N. treaty meant to create universal laws to govern the seas -- a treaty critics say will create a massive U.N. bureaucracy that could even claim powers over American waterways.
LOST -- the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, also called the Law of the Sea Treaty -- regulates all things oceanic, from fishing rights, navigation lanes and environmental concerns to what lies beneath: the seabed's oil and mineral wealth that companies hope to explore and exploit in coming years.
But critics say the treaty, which declares the sea and its bounty the "universal heritage of mankind," would redistribute American profits and have a reach extending into rivers and streams all the way up the mighty Mississippi.
[YES. THE UNCLOS' LAND, AIR & WATER-BASED SOURCES OF POLLUTION PROVISIONS WILL REQUIRE THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO RE-LEGISLATE & RE-REGULATE THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES, CONSISTENT WITH EUROPE'S PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE.]
The U.N. began working on LOST in 1973, and 157 nations have signed on to the treaty since it was concluded in 1982. Yet it has been stuck in dry dock for nearly 30 years in the U.S. and never even been brought to a full vote before the Senate.
But swelling approval in the Senate and the combined support of the White House, State Department and U.S. Navy mean LOST may be ready to unfurl its sails again.
Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a January confirmation hearing that he intends to push for ratification. "We are now laying the groundwork for and expect to try to take up the Law of the Sea Treaty. So that will be one of the priorities of the committee, and the key here is just timing -- how we proceed."
[MR. KERRY, WHO IS ON THE RECORD FOR SUPPORTING U.S. ADOPTION OF EUROPE'S PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE, A KIND OF 'OUTSOURCING' OF THE U.S. LEGISLATIVE FUNCTION TO EUROPEAN SOCIALIST BUREAUCRATS. MR. KERRY DOESN'T CARE ABOUT BEING ACCOUNTABLE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC, LET ALONE, TO HIS MASSACHUSETTS CONSTITUENTS.]
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the treaty is vital for American businesses and the Navy, told Kerry that his committee "will have a very receptive audience in our State Department and in our administration."
[MS. CLINTON HAS STILL NOT ARTICULATED A VALID REASON WHY IT IS VITAL.]
LOST apportions "Exclusive Economic Zones" that stretch 200 miles from a country's coast and establishes the International Seabed Authority to administer the communal territory farther out. The treaty's proponents say it clears up a murky legal area that has prevented companies from taking advantage of the deep seas' wealth.
[THE U.S. ALREADY RECOGNIZES THE 200 MILE 'EXCLUSIVE ECONOMIC ZONE' AS A MATTER OF CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW, CONSISTENT WITH THE UNCLOS, AND IT ISN'T YET A PARTY TO THE TREATY. WHY, THEN, RATIFY THE UNCLOS, IF THE U.S. & ALL UNCLOS PARTIES ALREADY RECOGNIZE THE U.S. EEZ???]
"American firms and businesses want legal certainty so they can compete with foreign companies for marine resources," said Spencer Boyer, director of international law and diplomacy at the Center for American Progress. Without the clearly defined authority established by the treaty, "there's confusion -- a lot of businesses don't want to take that risk."
[YES. ONCE THE U.S. RATIFIES THE UNCLOS, U.S. COMPANIES WILL BE CERTAIN THAT THEY WILL BECOME SUBJECT TO EUROPE'S RESTRICTIVE AND EXPENSIVE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE!!].
The American military is looking for another kind of certainty from LOST -- a guarantee of safe passage through all seaways, a right China sought to deny an unarmed Navy vessel Monday in its own Exclusive Economic Zone in the South China Sea.
"The Convention codifies navigation and overflight rights and high seas freedoms that are essential for the global mobility of our armed forces," the Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote in a June 2007 letter to Senate leadership.
[THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF CONTINUE TO BELIEVE THAT THE UNCLOS IS A DOCUMENT ETCHED IN STONE THAT IS IMMUTABLE, i.e., THEY BELIEVE IT WILL NOT CHANGE TO ACCOMODATE EVOLVING INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW, WHICH CLEARLY REFLECTS THEIR MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE TREATY AND THE LONGSTANDING (HISTORICAL) INTENTIONS OF MANY UNCLOS PARTIES, THE GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST COMMUNITY AND MANY ACADEMICIANS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE UNCLOS III CONFERENCE.]
LOST has even managed to unify environmental groups and deep-sea miners, who both see something to gain in the treaty.
[THAT IS BECAUSE DEEP SEA MINERS DON'T KNOW MUCH ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROVISIONS, REGULATIONS, PROTOCOLS AND ANNEXES OF THE UNCLOS. IGNORANCE IS BLISS.]
"We gain sovereignty, we gain territory, we gain access to places that we have not had access to as easily," said Don Kraus, president of Citizens for Global Solutions, a group that advocates strengthening international institutions. "We don't stand to lose anything."
[UNFORTUNATELY, MR. KRAUS' STATEMENT IS NOT TRUE.]
But critics say clauses built into the treaty could directly harm American interests. They say it could force the U.S. to comply with unspecified environmental codes, and that the treaty gives environmental activists the legal standing to sue over river pollution and shut down industry, simply because rivers feed into the sea.
The treaty allows environmental groups to bring lawsuits to the Law of the Sea Tribunal in Germany, a panel of 21 U.N. judges who would have say over pollution levels in American rivers. Their rulings would have the force law in the U.S., according to a reading in a 2008 Supreme Court decision by Justice John Paul Stevens.
"You've got an unaccountable tribunal that will surely be stacked with jurists hostile to our interests," said Chris Horner, author of "Red Hot Lies," a book critical of environmentalists. "This would never pass muster if the Senate held an open, public debate about this."
Legal experts also warn that the treaty demands aid for landlocked countries that lack the access and technology to mine the deep seas -- and that it might not even benefit the U.S. at all.
"You have to pay royalties on the value of anything you extract (from the deep seabed), those royalties to be distributed as the new bureaucracy sees fit, primarily to landlocked countries and underdeveloped countries," said Steven Groves, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. American money would also go to fund the International Seabed Authority, which Groves warned "would have the potential to become the most massive U.N. bureaucracy on the planet."
"The whole theory of the treaty is that the world's oceans and everything below them are the common heritage of mankind," said Groves. "Very socialist."
Any nation that is party to the treaty can have a seat on the tribunal and seabed authority -- even ones that don't have access to the sea. The current vice president of the tribunal represents Austria, a landlocked nation that hasn't had a sea berth since the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dissolved in the First World War.
Some legal experts worry that without ratification, the U.S. will lose a seat at the table as maritime law continues to be codified and resources get divvied up. But opponents note that many of the benefits offered the U.S., such as navigation rights, are already international custom, and that the U.S. has effected the treaty without being party to it. President Reagan's initial opposition on the basis of seabed laws forced the rewriting of the original treaty in 1994, which led the U.S. to sign it, but not to ratify it.
Its complexity, however, still beguiles even experts, who say it is unlikely to be understood when brought to a vote in the Senate.
"The thing is about 150 pages long -- meaning there are exactly zero people in the Senate who have read it," said Groves.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The U.S. Government Accountability Officehttp://www.gao.gov/about
The Government Accountability Office Organization Chart - Detailed
The United States Congress Office of Compliance is an independent federal agency within the legislative branch of the United States government. It was created to administer and enforce the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995.
The Congressional Accountability Act (CAA), enacted in 1995, was one of the first pieces of legislation passed by the 104th Congress. The CAA applies twelve civil rights, labor, and workplace safety and health laws to the U.S. Congress and its associated agencies, requiring them to follow many of the same employment and workplace safety laws applied to businesses and the Federal Government.
- Laws Applied to the Legislative Branch by the CAA
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
- The Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute
- Veterans’ employment and reemployment rights at Chapter 43 of Title 38 of the U.S. Code
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988
- The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938
- The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993
- Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
- The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
- The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1989
Indoor Air Quality: Air Pollutants
Workers’ Right to Know: What you should know about workplace chemicals