U.S. business groups are expressing disappointment over dimmed chances that the United States will ratify a decades-old global maritime pact. At least 34 Republican senators have declared their opposition to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea, denying supporters the two-thirds Senate vote they would need for ratification.
Maritime defense, shipping, and natural resources extraction are but a few of the endeavors covered by the Law of the Sea Convention, which governs how nations use the world’s oceans. Among major industrialized nations, only the United States has yet to join.
The treaty must be confirmed by the Senate for the U.S. to have any say in how it operates. But the Obama administration’s hopes for a Senate vote were dashed this week because of growing Republican opposition to the pact.
“This is something that is not going to happen this year,” says Sen. James Inhofe.”There are some 35 members and many more, I might suggest, that would vote against it, should it come up.” Inhofe says the treaty would erode U.S. sovereignty.
“It would, for the first time in the history of this country, authorize the United Nations to have taxing authority over the United States of America,” he added.
The Obama administration says the treaty does not allow any U.N. taxes. U.S. business groups support ratification, saying the treaty will expand opportunities for American companies and protect their maritime interests. The Senate opposition is disappointing to Joe Cox, who heads a group representing America’s commercial shipping industry.
“It is extremely frustrating, because the way we view the sovereignty issue is the U.S. would actually be expanding its sovereignty capabilities by acceding to the treaty,” he said.