Clinton Urges Passage of Law of Sea Treaty

Clinton Urges Passage of Law of Sea Treaty

By Bruce Walker

The New American

May 25, 2012

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is a treaty which has never been ratified by the United States since it was proposed several decades ago. The Obama administration has been working to get the treaty ratified through the United States Senate. Secretary of State Clinton recently testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

I am well aware that this treaty does have determined opposition, limited, but nevertheless quite vociferous. And it is unfortunate because it is opposition based in ideology and mythology, not in facts, evidence, or the consequences of our continuing failure to accede to the treaty.

Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma expressed concern that the treaty would take royalty income away from the United States for oil, gas and minerals extracted beyond the established 200-mile limit established for exploration and extraction by coastal nations. This wealth may be vast. Although oil and gas have been taken out of ocean floors for quite a while, the potential to acquire manganese (with large quantities of high-grade iron), gold, copper, uranium, and even small diamonds suitable for many industrial purposes has scarcely been touched, although the mineral wealth in deep chasms of the ocean as well as wealth in sea water itself, could run into trillions of dollars.

UNCLOS has a collectivist/redistributionist tilt which is pretty explicitly intended to help the “have not” nations through an assessment of the wealth extracted by the “have” nations — the latter, of course, including the United States. This would be in the form of an international tax on American business, a precedent that Inhofe felt might be unconstitutional and definitely would be bad policy. Senator Inhofe explained his concerns:

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