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  Will the UN Rule the Waves
by J. F. Kelly, Jr.[writer] 6/8/07

In the inherent conflict between the forces of globalism and national sovereignty, the United Nations, on the one hand, seeks to establish its position as a world government organization while the world’s only remaining superpower, on the other, struggles to preserve its autonomy. And why not? The United States has relatively little to gain and much to lose by surrendering its sovereign rights except, perhaps, the good will of those advocates of world government who believe that the UN can guide us all toward one happy, unified planet.

J.F. Kelly, Jr.

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

But the UN has little oversight and, therefore, little accountability. Who, after all, oversees a world body? In spite of revelations of mismanagement, graft and corruption, most recently in the Oil for Food scandal during Kofi Annan’s administration, the UN resists the reforms that the US has demanded as a condition for continued major support.

The United States has been criticized by friend and foe, including its European allies, for failing to sign the Kyoto Protocol limiting hydrocarbon emissions. But elected governments have a first responsibility to act in the best interests of their own countries and agreeing to the Kyoto treaty was clearly not in the best interest of the U.S. It unfairly penalized the world’s largest economy while exempting China and India because they were considered emerging nations. The last time I looked, China was on a pace to emerge right on past the U.S. as the world’s number one producer of carbon emissions and India was on its way to overtake China as the world’s most populous nation. Meanwhile, several of our European allies were unable to meet the emission standards they agreed to.

The United States should not surrender sovereign powers to world organizations or tribunals when doing so has the potential to weaken our military or economic posture and subjects us to the whims and fancies of regional and political blocs that may be hostile to the U.S. and its interests. We recognized this when we refused to be bound by the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court which could decide, for example, to try U.S. political and military officials for war crimes. The U.S., for good reason, has been reluctant in the past to place operational command of its military forces under foreign commanders. Members of our armed forces are under oath to defend the United States of America, not the world.

Ronald Reagan refused to sign the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNLOSC) in 1982 because of what he felt were basic conflicts with free market principles with regard to the commercial development of the deep sea bed. He was not intimidated by the fact that there was intense international pressure on the U.S. to sign it. But as the world’s leading maritime power, the U.S. had little to gain and much to lose by signing. Basically, the convention provided for the socialization of the world’s oceans, covering over two-thirds of the globe’s surface. The idea was to entitle all the world’s nations, including land-locked states with no maritime industries or navies.

Bill Clinton attempted to get the Senate to ratify a later version of the treaty, amended in 2004. It addressed some but not all of Reagan’s objections and the Senate wisely rejected it. Among the persisting problems from the U.S. perspective, was the method for resolving disputes. Corporations involved in commercial sea bed activities could not bring lawsuits but would be required to rely on their home government to appeal to the appropriate UN agency. That would be a UN regulating agency or tribunal whose majority decision could be binding.

A Heritage Foundation research report by former Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese,III, Baker Spring and Brett D. Schaefer in May warned that nothing has occurred since 2004 to lead the U.S. Senate to reverse its earlier decision to decline to ratify this treaty. The report warned against the danger of creating ponderous international bureaucracies that could severely restrict America’s flexibility to act in its best interest. But in spite of obvious risks and the abysmal record of other UN bureaucracies, such as, for example, the UN Human Rights Council, The Bush administration, with the apparent support of the Navy, is urging the Senate to make the U.S. a party to the treaty.

I must have missed something here. Why would the world’s paramount naval power surrender flexibility in this vital area and subject itself to the jurisdiction of a UN regulatory agency without transparency or accountability? Senators should demand to know precisely what benefits this treaty will provide to the United States and its maritime interests that they do not already enjoy by existing treaty or convention and whether these benefits will offset the potential risks and loss of flexibility. CRO

copyright 2007 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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