NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 6, 2005

For nearly 20 years, the United States has refused to sign the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) but prominent Republicans, and the president himself, are signaling support for ratification, says the Cato Institute's Doug Bandow.

LOST -- a comprehensive measure governing navigational rights on the sea and mineral rights on the seabed -- has gone through many rounds of changes that won support of the Clinton administration in 1994; however, the changes have not altered the fundamental principles, which are collectivist in nature and inimical to U.S. interests, says Bandow.

Most objectionable is Section XI, the portion of treaty that governs seabed mining:

  • The provisions of Section XI may have the effect of forever discouraging such operations, even where there might be huge benefits.
  • Regulations are to be administered through a complicated system of committees and agencies within the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a creation of the United Nations that has ultimate jurisdiction over the agreement.
  • Funding for ISA and for the enforcement of LOST would flow disproportionately from the United States, and provisions such as those covering technology transfers could put America's national security at risk.

Moreover, improvements in transit rights and other areas would be modest, at best.

Furthermore, the Senate would be wise to reject LOST, just like it did in 1994, says Bandow.

Source: Doug Bandow, "Don't Resurrect the Law of the Sea Treaty," Cato Institute, October, 13, 2005.

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