Rob Portman and Kelly Ayotte Sink Law of the Sea Treaty

The international treaty is not in the best interest of the United States.


The Law of the Sea Treaty, a controversial agreement that would have placed the responsibility for protecting freedom of the seas with an international organization created by the United Nations, sank Monday as a 33rd and 34th U.S. senator announced their opposition to its ratification.

U.S. Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire notified Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of their opposition to the treaty by letter in which they cited their "significant concerns about the breadth and ambiguity of the treaty, and more importantly, the risks to U.S. sovereignty due to issues regarding enforcement and adjudication."

"After careful consideration, we have concluded that on balance this treaty is not in the national interest of the United States. As a result, we would oppose the treaty if it were called up for a vote," Portman—a potential running mate for likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney—and Ayotte said in their letter.

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Prior to Portman and Ayotte's declaration, 32 members of the U.S. Senate had already gone on record opposition ratification of the treaty, which has been around since Ronald Reagan was president.

"We simply are not persuaded that decisions by the International Seabed Authority and international tribunals empowered by this treaty will be more favorable to U.S. interests than bilateral negotiations, voluntary arbitration, and other traditional means of resolving maritime issues. No international organization owns the seas, and we are confident that our country will continue to protect its navigational freedom, valid territorial claims, and other maritime rights," Portman and Ayotte told read.

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Earlier this year Sen. John F. Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held several hearings on the treaty as the first step in a renewed push for ratification, efforts back by the Obama administration which had been vocally supportive of the pact. Until Monday's announcement expectations were high that Kerry would lead a push for ratification during a "lame duck" session of the Senate after the November 2012 elections.

The treaty is just one more component of a global governance system in which the United States would be forced to cede some of its sovereignty and the individual liberty of its citizens to international organizations managed by unelected, self-perpetuating bureaucratic aristocracies that care little for democratic traditions. Global internationalists who believe the United States needs to deepen its involvement in world affairs—not as the leader of the free world but as a kind of first among equals are not acting in the best long-term interests of the American people. The defeat yet again of the Law of the Sea Treaty is a victory for America.

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