DeMint Urges Opposition to Sea Treaty, Citing ‘Redistribution of Wealth’ and ‘Freedom of Navigation’

Fred Lucas | May 10, 2012 | 11:00am EDT
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Sen. Jim DeMint (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) is urging his Senate colleagues to join him in opposing the Law of the Sea Treaty. So far he’s gathered 24 signatures on the letter he’s circulating.

“By its current terms, the Law of the Sea Convention encompasses economic and technology interests in the deep sea, redistribution of wealth from developed to undeveloped nations, freedom of navigation in the deep sea and exclusive economic zones which may impact maritime security, and environmental regulation over virtually all sources of pollution,” says the letter obtained by

Those who sign the letter agree that if the treaty comes to the Senate floor, “we will oppose its ratification.”

The two dozen signatures are just 10 votes short of the 34 needed to kill the treaty in the Senate.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is pushing for the long-dormant treaty to be ratified.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted at the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea on Dec. 10, 1982. It is intended to define the rights and responsibilities of all nations regarding their territorial waters and the conduct of their ships on the high seas.

While the Reagan administration participated in the U.N. conference, President Ronald Reagan refused to sign the treaty, raising several objections on sovereignty grounds. President Bill Clinton signed on to a revised version in 1994, but that treaty has yet to be ratified by the Senate.

In 2007, President George W. Bush endorsed the treaty, prompting objections from Senate Republicans.

Article 82 would require certain members to transfer a portion of royalties from use of the sea’s natural resources to the International Seabed Authority in Kingston, Jamaica. For the United States, resources located on the U.S. continental shelf – defined as 200 nautical miles or more from the shore – reportedly could be worth billions. So, if the U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, the country would be required to transfer part of royalties from drilling for oil and other activities to the ISA.

In his letter, DeMint writes, “To effect the treaty’s broad regime of governance, we are particularly concerned that United States sovereignty could be subjugated in many areas to a supranational government that is chartered by the United Nations under the 1982 Convention.  Further, we are troubled that compulsory dispute resolution could pertain to public and private activities including law enforcement, maritime security, business operations, and nonmilitary activities performed aboard military vessels.”

The DeMint letter, addressed to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), has not been sent to Reid at this point.

It currently lists the names of Sens. Jon Kyl of Arizona; Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma; Roy Blunt of Missouri; Pat Roberts of Kansas; David Vitter of Louisiana; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; John Cornyn of Texas; John Boozman of Arkansas; Rand Paul of Kentucky; Jim Risch and Mike Crapo of Idaho; Orin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah; Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions of Alabama; John Barrasso of Wyoming; John Thune of South Dakota; Richard Burr of North Carolina; Saxby Chambliss of Georgia; Dan Coats of Indiana; John Hoeven of North Dakota and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

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