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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate Mr. Amash's efforts to protect liberty.

Let us be clear, there should be no ambiguity when the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens are at risk. The fear that Americans have over indefinite detention is well-founded. We have the obligation, and now the opportunity, to be crystal clear in this language, and I believe that this amendment moves this NDAA in the right direction of protecting these cherished constitutional rights.

I urge support of this amendment.


Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. First, let me say that there is centuries-old precedence of international law governing the navigational rights in territorial waters and navigation through the straits around the globe. The U.N.'s Convention on the Law of the Sea was submitted to the United States Senate for its advice and consent in adherence to the United States Constitution 30 years ago in the 1980s, but the United States Senate has consistently refused to support it.

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea threatens the United States' national security interests and subordinates United States sovereignty to the global bureaucracy known as the United Nations.

It threatens U.S. sovereignty under part XV by subjecting U.S. companies to mandatory dispute settlements and costly lawsuits by creating an unaccountable International Seabed Authority, ISA, to make rules that the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea members must follow. In addition, these rules may be changed by the ISA over the objection of any signatory nation.

It threatens U.S. military priorities because the U.S. Navy could find itself subject to international dispute resolution for its military activities in a nation-state's exclusive economic zones because article 288 does not define ``military activity.'' An example here might be the restriction, not the enhancement, of the free movement of United States Navy vessels in areas such as the South China Sea where we see China attempting to extend its territorial waters into areas such as the Spratly Islands.

You talk about redistribution of the wealth, it threatens U.S. foreign policy objectives because article 82 requires the revenue given to the ISA be distributed to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea members. No transparency exists--as it doesn't in most U.N. policies--but no transparency exists on how countries use the funds, and nothing prevents the ISA from redistributing U.S. revenue to state sponsors of terrorism or undemocratic regimes with human rights abuses.

It threatens the U.S. economic interests. The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea provides for international revenue sharing from the exploitation of resources taken from the deep seabed--nickel, copper, cobalt are just some of the few, as well as oil and gas taken from the extended continental shelf. Now, this brings into question offshore and deep sea energy production and the question of whether we really want to turn over regulatory authority of these potential assets to the United Nations.

In addition, the Law of the Sea treaty could also potentially subject United States rivers and lakes to international jurisdiction where U.S. waterways meet international waters.

The Law of the Sea treaty would, in essence, turn the United States Navy into a policing arm of the United Nations, since we have the largest and most capable Navy in the world.

My amendment would protect the United States Navy, the United States military chain of command, authority of the Secretary of the Navy, Secretary of Defense, Commander in Chief, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the constitutional requirements of the U.S. Congress. My amendment limits American tax dollars to any institution or organization established by the U.N.'s Convention on the Law of the Sea, and I encourage the Members' support, and I yield back the balance of my time.


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