Bolton Supported the Law of the Sea Before He Opposed It

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It turns out that John Bolton’s recent lobbying against the Law of the Sea represents a major flip-flop.
I’ve known about this exchange for quite a while, but it doesn’t commit Bolton to personal support of the treaty:

BOLTON: The administration has submitted the Law of the Sea Treaty as one of its priorities, and I support that.
SARBANES: Simply because it’s an administration position, or does that represent your own view of it?
BOLTON: Well, I haven’t personally read the Law of the Sea Treaty. I don’t think I’ve ever read it, to be honest with you.

Of course, administration appointees are required to support administration policy. But I recently came across another exchange, in which Bolton substantially undermines the most common policy-grounded objections to the convention. It goes well beyond the basic level of support that is compulsory for administration officials and indicates that he at some point did read and endorse the Law of the Sea.
Here’s what he had to say at his confirmation hearing on April 11, 2005:

LUGAR: [D]o you see any potential entanglement of the United States with the Law of the Sea Treaty and loss of sovereignty to the U.N. or to any other world body?
BOLTON: No, I don’t see that the Law of the Sea Treaty implicates the United Nations in any material respect. And those that have gone over the question of the seabed conclude there’s no risk of taxation or anything like that.
As I say, my own review and that of the bureaus that report to me was on the importance that our military attached to it.
I will say, perhaps, one related point. A number of people have asked about the relationship of the Law of the Sea Treaty to the Proliferation Security Initiative.
And you know, I don’t think that if the Senate were to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty and the president were to make the treaty, that it would have any negative impact whatsoever on PSI.
One of the things the PSI statement of interdiction principle says very clearly is that any actions taken pursuant to PSI would be done in accordance with existing national and international authority.
And of course all of our other core group members of the PSI are states party to the Law of the Sea Treaty.
We would not ask them, obviously, to do anything that would violate their obligations. And so, in effect, we built that into the PSI base as it were.

Confirmation conversion, anyone?
If he keeps up his scorched earth policy and his flip flopping, Bolton’s credibility will head into a downward spiral right on time for his upcoming book release.
On a related note — that is, related to Law of the Sea opponents embarrassing themselves — the most visible Law of the Sea opponents had scheduled a “telephone press conference” for this morning. I just found out it was canceled for lack of interest.
There’s a lesson here for Bolton: when you’re consistently inconsistent, or just plain absurd, people stop paying attention to you.
— Scott Paul
Note: As I wrote earlier, Dick Lugar’s opening statement at yesterday’s Law of the Sea hearing finally exposed the right-wing hypocrisy on the Law of the Sea and the Iraq war. It’s now up on his site. Everyone should read it.

Comments

12 comments on “Bolton Supported the Law of the Sea Before He Opposed It

  1. tower defense says:

    During the past six months, a number of former and current administration officials have declared their support for the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), the largest environmental regulatory treaty in the history of the world. Based on their recommendations, President Bush, as did his predecessor, former President Clinton, agreed to resubmit the LOST to the US Senate once again for ratification.

    Reply

  2. Informed Lawyer says:

    From NationalLedger.com
    DC Journal
    President Bush’s Toilet Bowl Treaty
    By Cliff Kincaid
    Oct 29, 2007
    When State Department Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III gave a controversial June 6 speech on the subject of “The United States and International Law,” he mentioned that the Bush Administration had “put forward a priority list of over 35 treaty packages that we have urged the Senate to approve soon, including the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.”
    President Bush’s Toilet Bowl Treaty (Image: Wenn)
    The latter is now up for Senate ratification, with a vote scheduled on Wednesday, and one of its many controversial provisions is the regulation of land-based sources of pollution. This treaty covers the water and the land. But now we have discovered that the Bush Administration has asked the Senate to ratify a treaty that defines one of those land-based sources of pollution as toilet flushing. No kidding.
    It is amazing but true. The Bush Administration wants the Senate to ratify a treaty that will invite international inspections of what you flush down your toilet.
    We are talking about Annex III of the “Protocol Concerning Pollution from Land-Based Sources and Activities to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, with Annexes.” You can read it for yourself here.
    Annex III is titled, “Domestic Wastewater,” which is defined as including “all discharges from households, commercial facilities, hotels, septage and any other entity…” These discharges are defined as encompassing (1) toilet flushing, (2) discharges from showers, wash basins, kitchens and laundries, or discharges from small industries, provided their composition and quantity are compatible with treatment in a domestic wastewater system.
    Lawrence A. Kogan of the Institute for Trade, Standards, and Sustainable Development uncovered the dangerous details of this agreement and has termed it the “Toilet bowl treaty,” noting that it constitutes a sort of mini-Law of the Sea Treaty. The protocol, he says, is one of 11 “regional seas” agreements. It is on an October 1 State Department list of “Treaties Pending in the Senate.” (Not all of these treaties are currently being pushed by the Bush Administration).
    Our major media were, as usual, asleep at the switch. It turns out that the White House issued a press release about submitting this treaty to the Senate for ratification. President Bush’s statement was quite specific. He noted that “It is estimated that 70 to 90 percent of pollution entering the marine environment emanates from land-based sources and activities,” and that parties to the treaty “are required to ensure that domestic wastewater discharges meet specific effluent limitations, and to develop plans for the prevention and reduction of agricultural nonpoint source pollution.”
    Bush claimed that “The United States would be able to implement its obligations under the Protocol under existing statutory and regulatory authority.” In other words, he thinks this is supposed to affect others, not us. But this may not be the way some activist judges and international lawyers see it.
    Bush’s admission that 70 to 90 percent of pollution entering the marine environment emanates from land-based sources and activities is directly relevant to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which has provisions relating to prohibiting pollution from such sources. That is why many observers have concluded that the Law of the Sea Treaty can serve as a back-door way to implement the (unratified) global warming treaty. Foreign judges and lawyers could easily interpret greenhouse gas emissions as contributing to pollution of the oceans. As a result, under UNCLOS they could order cuts in energy use.
    Since the State Department submitted the protocol for ratification, along with the Law of the Sea Treaty, it’s a certainty that Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III knew all about the potential for regulating land-based pollution sources and activities, including toilet bowls, when he testified before the Senate about UNCLOS on September 27. But not only did he deny that UNCLOS had any such potential, he said it had no such provisions. When pressed, he claimed the provisions were “hortatory” and had no practical legal impact. This is why Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch and I have asked for a formal review (PDF) of his testimony. He clearly misled the Senate.
    But now we find out that it’s worse than we thought. The State Department had previously submitted another treaty that specifically and explicitly defined a land-based source of pollution as being a toilet bowl. Ratification of this treaty, in conjunction with ratification of UNCLOS, would literally invite U.N. inspectors to review and manage discharge from your toilet bowl. Why didn’t Bellinger tell the Senate about that during his UNCLOS testimony?
    Bellinger seems to be far more open and honest with international audiences that he is trying to appease and impress. In his June 6 speech to a group at The Hague, for example, Bellinger boasted about using his own staff of 171 lawyers to “integrate” international law “into the decision-making process” of the U.S. Government. He defended the President’s order to Texas to comply with a ruling by the U.N.’s International Court of Justice on giving convicted Mexican killers another hearing. Bellinger called this compliance with “an international obligation.”
    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on UNCLOS on Wednesday. UNCLOS is the first order of business and if it passes, as seems likely, Majority Leader Senator Harry Reid could call it up for a quick Senate floor vote.
    Before the committee votes, it should recall Bellinger as a witness and determine why he has been less than open and honest about the “obligations” of the U.S. under UNCLOS. Then he should be asked to explain why we need a treaty targeting toilet bowls and showers. If he claims the need to adhere to “international obligations,” he should be laughed out of the hearing room, along with his treaties.
    Cliff Kincaid is the Editor of Accuracy in Media.
    © Copyright National Ledger, http://www.NationalLedger.com

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  3. Informed Lawyer says:

    There is a new ITSSD Journal on the Law of the Sea entry – Myths & Realities #4 –
    http://itssd.blogspot.com/2007/10/myths-realities-4-concerning-un-law-of_1624.html
    Good Reading!

    Reply

  4. Informed Lawyer says:

    Please share with your readers a recent public service announcement from the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), concerning the US Congress’ constitutionally bereft review of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)/ Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
    It has already been seen in Europe. See:
    http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/Simon-Espersen/blog/abuse-of-constitutional-powers

    Reply

  5. Informed Lawyer says:

    Please share with your readers a recent public service announcement from the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), concerning the US Congress’ constitutionally bereft review of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)/ Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
    It has already been seen in Europe. See:
    http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/Simon-Espersen/blog/abuse-of-constitutional-powers

    Reply

  6. Informed Lawyer says:

    Please share with your readers a recent public service announcement from the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), concerning the US Congress’ constitutionally bereft review of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)/ Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
    It has already been seen in Europe. See:
    http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/Simon-Espersen/blog/abuse-of-constitutional-powers

    Reply

  7. Informed Lawyer says:

    Please share with your readers a recent public service announcement from the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), concerning the US Congress’ constitutionally bereft review of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)/ Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST).
    It has already been seen in Europe. See:
    http://www.kommunikationsforum.dk/Simon-Espersen/blog/abuse-of-constitutional-powers

    Reply

  8. Info says:

    Actually, Bolton had a change of heart because he found out, after actually having read the treaty, that there are major concerns which this Administration and Senate Foreign Relations Committee have refused to review.
    See the article below:
    The ‘LOST 45’ UN Environmental Restrictions on US Sovereignty
    By J. William Middendorf II* and Lawrence A. Kogan**
    During the past six months, a number of former and current administration officials have declared their support for the UN Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST), the largest environmental regulatory treaty in the history of the world. Based on their recommendations, President Bush, as did his predecessor, former President Clinton, agreed to resubmit the LOST to the US Senate once again for ratification.
    These officials, many of whom are giants in the conservative movement, have argued that LOST ratification would ensure America’s national security, economic and technological vitality and positive standing within the international community. Regrettably, these claims are very much overstated.
    Granted, US LOST ratification would signal our acceptance of long-established customary international freedom of navigation principles, as the US Navy and Coast Guard have asserted. However, the general rule of “freedom of navigation/innocent passage” which the administration relies upon as the chief justification for binding America to this treaty has, over time, been eroded and diminished in scope by the LOST’s more numerous environmental regulatory exceptions.
    While the LOST contains only two articles (38 and 87) that refer expressly to the right of “freedom of navigation” and ten articles (17, 19, 21-25, 45, 52 and 211) that refer expressly to the related right of “innocent passage”, there are at least 45 environmental articles in LOST Part XII, plus countless others in Parts V, VII, IX, XI, XII, and XIII and Annexes I and VIII that effectively limit those rights. In addition to these ‘LOST 45 plus’, there are also two recent International Seabed Authority environmental regulations and at least one entire environmental protocol related to the LOST (the LOST UN Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement) which European nations have already employed to create ‘marine protected areas’ that even further burden such rights. Collectively, these overwhelming environmental restrictions on American sovereignty obligate the US government and private US citizens to preserve and protect the ‘marine environment’ and its ‘living resources’ against all kinds of possible human-induced ‘pollution’. This includes pollution generated from water, land and air-based sources (e.g., carbon dioxide), even those located within US sovereign territory, that could directly or indirectly impact the global marine environment. In other words, US courts would be compelled to interpret these LOST 45 plus over our own environmental laws should the US ratify the LOST. Tragically, very few US lawmakers are familiar with these LOST provisions or their relationship to numerous other UN environmental treaties.
    Hence, following LOST ratification, US military and commercial shippers would no longer be able to rely on the right to freedom of navigation/innocent passage as an absolute right. Indeed, a growing number of foreign governments and commentators hostile to US interests have argued that, under LOST “the right of unlimited freedom of navigation” is subject to “the obligation to protect the [marine] environment”. This LOST reality was previously corroborated by the Clinton administration’s Oceans Report Task Force organized by former Vice President Al Gore. In light of the LOST’s failure to define exempt ‘military activities’, the 1999 report then warned that the domestic and international environmental obligations imposed by the LOST were being manipulated by foreign governments and environmental activists so as to “conflict [with] the US military’s ability to test, train, exercise, and operate in the marine environment”.
    These findings should come as no surprise to this administration. Thirty years prior, the “father of the [first] Law of the Sea Conference”, Malta’s former UN Ambassador Arvid Pardo, declared that, “the new law of the sea must be based no longer on the notion of ‘freedom of the seas’ but on a new concept, the Common Heritage of Mankind (CHM).” Thereafter, Tommy Koh, Singapore’s former UN Ambassador and President of the third Law of the Sea Conference, described the LOST as “a global constitution for [the world’s] oceans” drafted in the image of the UN charter.
    This administration, presumably, is also aware that CHM was originally a central planning (socialism)-based wealth redistribution mechanism rooted in the Cold War era. And, with a little homework, it should have discovered that, since 1994 (when former President Clinton submitted to the US Senate LOST amendments that allegedly addressed former President Reagan’s objections), CHM has evolved into a prominent instrument of ‘soft’ socialism within the European-dominated UN environment and sustainable development (UNEP/SD) programs. CHM now encompasses the legal obligation erges omnes – ‘of all to all’, which serves as the primary UNEP/SD rationale for the global governance of the earth’s biosphere. In the context of the LOST, CHM mandates the establishment of a UN-sanctioned global environmental conservation trust that would protect and preserve, through strict non-science and non-economics-based international and national regulations, all human use and exploitation of the oceans and its living and nonliving organisms.
    Consequently, following LOST ratification, US commercial businesses including the US military’s industrial and technology suppliers could no longer undertake design, manufacturing, processing, disposal and delivery activities within the US in reliance upon current US federal laws. This is especially true, now that President Bush has forwarded, once again, for Senate ratification four other related UN environmental treaties that would require yet further amendments to existing US federal chemicals legislation.
    More importantly, each of these other UN treaties contain the same non-science and non-economics-based European environmental legal principle embedded within the LOST 45 plus, which this president and his predecessor only barely succeeded in defeating at the World Trade Organization (WTO). That legal nostrum is the ‘standard-of-proof diminishing, burden of proof-reversing’, ‘guilty-until-proven-innocent’, ‘I fear, therefore I shall ban’ ‘hazard (not risk)-based’ Precautionary Principle (PP). Unfortunately, the LOST dispute settlement mechanism, with its emphasis on adjudicating environmental rather than trade issues, is unlikely to yield the same positive results as those the US secured at the WTO.
    In fact, US LOST ratification would provide other LOST treaty parties (especially those in Europe) with a greater ability to employ their unscientific PP to gradually undermine US military, economic and technological superiority. Such nations, for example, could more easily preclude the US military’s civilian technology and industrial supply chain from designing, producing and delivering effective technologies, products and processes that maintain US military preparedness. They also could disrupt US military logistics by relying upon environmental hazard rather than risk assessments to restrict the otherwise “innocent passage” of vessels operated by the US military’s many private shipping contractors. This is extremely likely to occur where US cargoes passing through navigational straits and territorial waters of other LOST parties include alleged ‘hazardous waste’ and/or ‘dangerous’ substances such as liquefied natural gas, oil, coal, chemicals, computers, electrical and electronic hardware, and perhaps, even genetically modified foods, feed and seed. And, such LOST parties could also cite the existence of hypothetical environmental hazards to limit, on PP grounds, the innocent passage of US nuclear-powered military vessels.
    The lack of truth and public transparency surrounding the LOST are hard to ignore. By ratifying the LOST, the US would unleash Europe’s PP and subject US military and economic sovereignty to eventual UN dominance and control. Therefore, the US Senate must publicly review the LOST’s largely hidden environmental regulatory agenda BEFORE it renders its advice and consent. Only by exposing the LOST’s deep dark caverns to the light of day in public hearings convened by the various congressional committees possessing oversight jurisdiction, as had recently occurred in connection with the illegal immigration bill, would the US be able to avoid such a disastrous outcome. Anything less would shortchange Americans and violate their cherished US constitutional right to due process.
    * Ambassador J. William Middendorf II previously served as US ambassador to the Netherlands, the European Union and the Organization of American States and as Secretary of the US Navy.
    ** Lawrence Kogan is president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Trade, Standards and Sustainable Development (ITSSD), a nonpartisan, nonprofit, international legal research and educational organization, and has advised the Bush administration concerning Europe’s use of the precautionary principle to dominate international economic affairs.

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  9. Jay C says:

    BTW, Scott (or Steve) – can either of you (either in a post or comments), give your humble readers some sort of background on just why right-wingers like John Bolton get SO shorts-in-a-twist over the Law Of The Sea Treaty? I mean, virtually every other nation with a yard of coastline -and most of the landlocked ones, too – have ratified the LOTST already: even the US accepts its regulations in general: the Navy seems to be in favor of it: so what IS the wingers’ issue?
    I remember way back when, when the LOTST was first proposed, there was a lot of domestic opposition here over its provisions for taxes or fees on seabed mining in international waters (God Forbid any US mining company should ever pay a nickel in taxes to anyone!); but I gather – mostly from reading your blog – that those provisions are no longer part of the Law – and seabed mining is still mostly a “future” technology . So what IS their problem? Why are so many prominent right-wingers spending so much time and effort to fight what seems basically a ceremonial ratification of an internationally-accepted treaty? Is it only that the hated UN is involved? Or is there some deeper, darker “rationale”?

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  10. rich says:

    Scott,
    Bolton doesn’t have credibility. Bolton does have powerful backers willing to put him behind the podium and on TV, where allegedly responsbile ‘commentators’ will, unaccountably, treat him as a serious and consequential player.
    Catching these guys in a contradiction doens’t matter.
    When the Law of th Sea was originally proposed way back when, Bolton was Jesse Helms’ protege–and Helms was adamantly opposed to it. Bolton’s position and attitude is no surprise to anyone. To anyone who cares about consistency or integrity, that is.

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  11. ... says:

    he thought he would one up the admin where he is in a race to see who lacks more credibility… i can’t make out who is winning, lol.

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  12. Jayson says:

    “If he keeps up his scorched earth policy and his flip flopping, Bolton’s credibility will thrown into a downward spiral right on time for his upcoming book release.”
    Lack of credibility has never hampered Anne Coulter’s book sales, for some reason.

    Reply

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