The PJ Tatler

Portman, Ayotte, Isakson Sink Law of the Sea Treaty

The Law of the Sea Treaty was effectively drowned today when Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced that they would vote against ratify the U.N. pact.

“After careful consideration, we have concluded that on balance this treaty is not in the national interest of the United States,” Portman and Ayotte, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wrote today to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “As a result, we would oppose the treaty if it were called up for a vote.”

Isakson announced on his website, “Johnny will vote ‘No’ if the Law of the Sea Treaty comes up for a vote in the Committee or before the full Senate. This year, Johnny has attended all the Committee hearings on the Law of the Sea Treaty and he has asked tough questions, but he has heard nothing that would cause him to change his ‘No’ vote from 2007.”

Two-thirds of the Senate is required for treaty ratification. With the 31 senators pledging their “no” votes in a letter to Reid last week, plus the three just announced, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) goal of getting the treaty through this Congress have been dashed.

“The treaty’s breadth and ambiguity might be less troubling if there were adequate assurance that it will be enforced impartially and in a manner consistent with U.S. interests. But that is not so. The United States could block some but not all actions of the International Seabed Authority, a legislative body vested with significant power over more than half of the earth’s surface,” Portman and Ayotte wrote. “…The treaty equates tribunal decisions with decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. This means that private litigants will likely be able to invoke tribunal judgments as enforceable in U.S. courts — against the government and possibly against U.S. businesses. The United States will have no lawful choice but to acquiesce to tribunal judgments, however burdensome or unfair.”