Law of the Sea Treaty Threatens Economy and Environment

"LOST" is Ineffective and Doomed to Fail: NCPA Study

The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is neither necessary for the U.S. to secure the open ocean's wealth, nor would it be good for the economy, according to a new report from the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, referred to as LOST, is an international treaty governing maritime law. LOST establishes the right for all nations to use the sea freely. Drafted in New York City between 1973 and 1982, the United States refused to ratify the Treaty based on arguments over national sovereignty.

Proponents claim that the U.S. will be unable to securely access key resources in the deep oceans and thus be harmed economically without LOST, but study author and NCPA Adjunct Fellow Iain Murray said, "There is no economic case for the United States to ratify LOST. It uses the failed socialist economic theory to govern the ocean floors, it has proven unable to resolve disputes, it subsidizes dangerous regimes, it does not establish meaningful property rights and thus fails to provide certainty for developers and it because it requires technology transfers."

"LOST suppresses research and development and it opens the USA up to endless environmental lawsuits aimed at wrecking the economy in the name of stopping global warming," added Murray.

"Because of LOST's environmental provisions, it would be rife for abuse by national and international environmental groups to prevent new development, shut down existing land based economic activities (especially energy use and development) and to get countries to adopt environmental standards through the backdoor that they have been unable to get through democratic institutions," said NCPA Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett.

Murray also said that LOST is a scheme for transferring wealth from developed countries with ocean coastlines to developing countries and countries with no ready access to the world's oceans -- it's an effort to manage the seas as a global commons.

Source: Iain Murray, "LOST at Sea: Why America Should Reject the Law of the Sea Treaty," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 2013.