Vitter's View: Preserving our National Sovereignty and Security
It is hard to believe, but this week the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted to approve a treaty that places important aspects of our national security concerns in the hands of the United Nations. The Law of the Sea Treaty, or LOST, has received little attention in the Senate or the media, but the treaty contains provisions that give me considerable concern. For that reason, I voted against sending LOST to the U.S. Senate floor for further consideration, and I have called upon my colleagues in the Senate to hold off on its ratification until further investigation and discussion can be held.
LOST carves the sea into zones and, in certain cases, dictates what actions sovereign states may be permitted to engage in under its terms, including those relating to national security, science, trade and the environment. In keeping with the traditions of the U.N., LOST creates a governing structure that goes far beyond simply codifying customary international law regarding navigation rights and the freedoms of the high seas. It also attempts to govern the use of the seabed, the airspace above it and the topsoil below it - infringing on the ability of sovereign nations to explore the oceans, conduct scientific research or collect military intelligence vital to national defense.
LOST places the interpretation and application of the treaty's terms, such as "military activities," in the hands of international courts and tribunals. Allowing an international body to determine what constitutes "military activities" places our country at risk and is a direct affront to our national sovereignty and security.
If another country disagrees with our interpretation of what constitutes "military activities," the issue would be decided by the LOST courts and tribunals. Through the use of LOST provisions, other nations could also block our intelligence-gathering activities - placing our national security in even greater jeopardy. This "lawfare" holds grave repercussions for our rights as a country and provides the U.N. with simply too much authority over American interests and concerns.
I will continue to call attention to the troubling aspects of this treaty. Before it is voted on by the Senate, it must be openly and thoroughly discussed and all the facts and concerns of the treaty should receive a full airing. The implications of LOST are too grave and far-reaching for us to do anything less.
I am interested in hearing your thoughts on LOST and other issues. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Senator David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510, or by phone at 202-224-4623. You can also reach me on the web at http://vitter.senate.gov.