The U.S Senate is scheduled to vote today on the ratification of the United Nations' Law of the Sea Treaty, a wide-ranging measure critics say will grant the U.N. control of the 70 percent of the planet under its oceans.
With Democrats in nearly unanimous agreement with the treaty and the Bush administration behind it, it will be up to a handful of determined Republican senators to derail it.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he will oppose the plan, and other senators have indicated they have heard from constituents who are afraid of the proposal.
"In the same way that the people prevailed in the Senate in the matter of defeating the illegal alien amnesty bill, it is entirely possible that the U.N. power grab known officially as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) could be rejected," one commentator noted.
"If you want a U.N. on steroids, you want the Law of the Sea Treaty," Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., has said.
A two-thirds vote is required for approval, meaning only 34 "no" votes can kill it.
The Heritage Foundation warns the treaty would have unintended consequences for U.S. interests – including a threat to sovereignty.
The conservative think tank says "bureaucracies established by multilateral treaties often lack the transparency and accountability necessary to ensure that they are untainted by corruption, mismanagement or inappropriate claims of authority. The LOST bureaucracy is called the International Seabed Authority Secretariat, which has a strong incentive to enhance its own authority at the expense of state sovereignty."
"For example, this treaty would impose taxes on U.S. companies engaged in extracting resources from the ocean floor," wrote Heritage fellows Baker Spring and Brett D. Schaefer. "This would give the treaty's secretariat an independent revenue stream that would remove a key check on its authority. After all, once a bureaucracy has its own source of funding, it needs answer only to itself."
"The United States should be wary of joining sweeping multilateral treaties negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations," say Spring and Schaefer of Heritage. "Specifically, the benefit to U.S. national interests should be indisputable and clearly outweigh the predictable negative consequences of ratification."
Other critics fear the treaty will be used as a back-door to implement policies against global warming without any accountability to the American people. Parts of the treaty, they say, mandate international regulation of U.S. economic and industrial activities on land. With that in mind, critics of the treaty believe so-called greenhouse gases could be viewed as ocean pollutants.
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