Should the U.S. sign the UN Law of the Sea Treaty or reject it? According to Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.), there could be a third way.
Kyl told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute on Monday that he would like to take a page from founding father James Madison and adopt the treaty with a caveat that allows Congress to reject problem areas, such as submission to an international bureaucracy that would collect and redistribute royalties from economic activities taking place on the continental shelf.
Choosing a “Madisonian” rather than a “Westphalian” approach to international law, Kyl argued, would allow the nation to benefit from navigational rights and agreements outlined in LOST, which would be an operational boon to American businesses and the U.S. Navy.
“My point is if you split the Law of the Sea Treaty into two pieces, one is supported by the Navy,” Kyl said. “That ‘good’ part of the treaty, about which there is little debate, could be codified by separating the wheat from the chaff.”
It’s a solution that might preserve American sovereignty as paramount while giving the nation the “seat at the table” that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocated for in a hearing last month.
“Such regulations (as outlined in the treaty) should be adopted through democratic processes,” Kyl said. “Respecting constitutional processes is crucial to protecting the substances of our God-given rights.”
But the idea remains a pipe dream, all the same.
As it stands, the treaty is not open to amendment, and Kyl acknowledged there was no clear way for the U.S. to pick and choose between provisions.
“There’s very little leeway in our ability to ratify the treaty,” he said.
Frank Gaffney, director of the Center for Security Policy and head of a coalition opposing Law of the Sea, told Human Events Tuesday he would support a treaty that retained navigational agreements, but dispatched with other provisions.
“I think there’s a general sense among people who are critical of the treaty that the navigation provisions are unobjectionable,” he said. “If it was possible to have the navigation provisions without having to go into all this socialist, redistributionist claptrap, that I think would be generally well-received.”
Unfortunately, Gaffney said, it‚??s not an option that appears available as the Senate contemplates ratification of the treaty.
“I’m not sure that there is a ‘there’ there, as they say,” Gaffney said.
The treaty is now under consideration by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. It needs a two-thirds majority in the full Senate for passage.