The Heritage Foundation and Heritage Action for America have fought steadily for American sovereignty and American naval and maritime rights and against taxation of Americans by international organizations and giveaways of America’s resources to foreign countries. As an important part of that effort, Heritage has opposed ratification by the United States of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, better known as the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). The American people have responded to the educational efforts of Heritage and other institutions concerned about America’s interests in the world and have made clear that the U.S. Senate should not approve LOST.
Heritage’s Bernard and Barbara Lomas Senior Research Fellow Steven Groves has made clear in a series of key reports why America must not join the treaty:
- U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Erodes U.S. Sovereignty over U.S. Extended Continental Shelf (June 7, 2011)
- Accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Is Unnecessary to Secure U.S. Navigational Rights and Freedoms (August 24, 2011)
- Accession to U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Would Expose the U.S. to Baseless Climate Change Lawsuits (March 12, 2012)
- U.S. Accession to U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Unnecessary to Develop Oil and Gas Resources (May 14, 2012)
The testimony of Mr. Groves and the testimony of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 14, 2012, ensured that the Senate understood the dangers that LOST poses to American interests.
The Senate received the message, loud and clear.
The Treaty Clause of the U.S. Constitution provides that the President “shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur.” Absent the consent of two-thirds of the Senators present, the President cannot make a treaty with foreign powers. As a matter of simple math, assuming that all 100 U.S. Senators are present and voting on a treaty, 67 Senators must approve for the Senate to consent to the treaty—which means that 34 votes in opposition to the treaty can stop it.
Having heard the voices of Heritage members and others concerned about the dangers of the LOST treaty, 34 Senators went on record opposing LOST. Thirty-one Senators, led by Senators Jim DeMint (R-SC), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and Mike Lee (R-UT), signed a letter to the Senate majority leader opposing the treaty, Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) wrote a separate letter to the majority leader to oppose it, and Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) sent a further letter opposing it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman. The clear voices of these 34 Senators in opposition to the Law of the Sea Treaty protected America’s sovereignty and interests in the seas.
The Heritage battle to protect America from the Law of the Sea Treaty will continue until a President, now or in the future, withdraws the ill-advised treaty, but, at least for now, LOST has been stopped dead in its tracks. As for the right of America’s naval and commercial fleets to sail the seas in accordance with the longstanding practices and customs of nations, often called “customary international law,” that right depends for its vitality not on paper treaties signed at the United Nations, but rather on the might of the United States Navy. Americans who seek to preserve and advance the rights of Americans to use the seas should support a strong national defense, including a strong Navy that can project American power across the globe in defense of American interests.
We thank the American people for protecting the interests of America by stopping the Law of the Sea Treaty.