Category Archives: Rio + 20
In 2012 the United Nations will convene the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, also known as Rio 2012 or Rio+20, hosted by Brazil in Rio de Janeiro, as a 20-year follow-up to the historic 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) that was held in the same city. The conference is organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Posted by Doug Bandow
Every few years, the Law of the Sea Treaty rears its head as a one-size-fits-all solution to a host of current maritime problems. This time, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff, are urging the Senate to ratify the treaty. The officials claim it will act as a tool to deal with aggressive actions by Iran, China, and Russia. But as I have long argued, no matter the current rationale for the treaty, it represents a bad deal for the United States.
Panetta and Dempsey rolled out three hot issues to make their case:
- Iran is threatening the world economy in the Strait of Hormuz? The Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) will help solve this.
- China is threatening the Philippines in the South China Sea? LOST is a crucial tool to prevent war.
- Russia is claiming land in the Arctic region to extract natural resources? LOST will put the screws to Moscow.
These international controversies will be magically resolved if only the Senate ratifies the convention.
If this sounds too good to be true, it is. It is not clear the treaty would do much at all to alleviate these flashpoints. Especially since the two most important potential antagonists, China and Russia, already have ratified LOST. And it is certainly not the best option policy-wise for the United States with each issue: Iran’s bluster in the Strait of Hormuz may prove its weakness. U.S. policy in the South China Sea suffers from a far more serious flaw: encouraging free-riding by allied states. Russia’s move into the Arctic has nothing to do with Washington’s absence from LOST.
The treaty itself, not substantially altered since 1994, is still plagued by the same problems that have halted its ratification for decades. Primarily, it will cede decisionmaking on seabed and maritime issues to a large, complex, unwieldy bureaucracy that will be funded heavily by—wait for it—the Untied States.
On national security, the U.S. Navy does not need such a treaty to operate freely. Its power relative to all other navies is the ultimate guarantee. Serious maritime challengers do not exist today. Russia’s navy is a rusted relic; China has yet to develop capabilities that come close to matching ours. Moreover, it is doubtful that the United States needs to defend countries such as the Philippines when flashpoints over islands in the region affect no vital American interests.
The average American knows very little about this treaty, and rightly so. It is an unnecessarily complicated and entangling concoction that accomplishes little that the longstanding body of customary international law on the high-seas or the dynamics of markets do not account for. My conclusion in testimony before the Senate Committee on Armed Services in 2004 still holds true:
All in all, the LOST remains captive to its collectivist and redistributionist origins. It is a bad agreement, one that cannot be fixed without abandoning its philosophical presupposition that the seabed is the common heritage of the world’s politicians and their agents, the Authority and Enterprise. The issue is not just abstract philosophical principle, but very real American interests, including national security. For these reasons, the Senate should reject the treaty.
- US Administration Renews Push to Ratify Law of Sea Treaty (voanews.com)
- Obama’s Sneaky Treaties (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)
- Oil Wars on the Horizon (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Note:The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, is the international agreement that resulted from the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), which took place from 1973 through 1982. The Law of the Sea Convention defines the rights and responsibilities of nations in their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources. The Convention, concluded in 1982, replaced four 1958 treaties. UNCLOS came into force in 1994, a year after Guyana became the 60th state to sign the treaty. To date, 162 countries and the European Community have joined in the Convention. However, it is uncertain as to what extent the Convention codifies customary international law.While the Secretary General of the United Nations receives instruments of ratification and accession and the UN provides support for meetings of states party to the Convention, the UN has no direct operational role in the implementation of the Convention. There is, however, a role played by organizations such as the International Maritime Organization, the International Whaling Commission, and the International Seabed Authority (the latter being established by the UN Convention).
Late this afternoon the Labor Department issued this statement concerning youth working on farms:
“The Obama Administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations. The Obama Administration is also deeply committed to listening and responding to what Americans across the country have to say about proposed rules and regulations. As a result, the Department of Labor is announcing today the withdrawal of the proposed rule dealing with children under the age of 16 who work in agricultural vocations. The decision to withdraw this rule – including provisions to define the ‘parental exemption’ – was made in response to thousands of comments expressing concerns about the effect of the proposed rules on small family-owned farms. To be clear, this regulation will not be pursued for the duration of the Obama Administration. Instead, the Departments of Labor and Agriculture will work with rural stakeholders – such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the Future Farmers of America, and 4-H – to develop an educational program to reduce accidents to young workers and promote safer agricultural working practices.”
For those that didn’t hear about this controversial bit of legislation. It would have prohibited anyone under the age of 16 from working in agriculture. This included the family farm. Young people across the country would have also not been able to engage in anything related to agriculture that could be deemed as “labor”. This could have included many projects for 4H and FFA, such as livestock and horticulture. Millions of dollars in money and scholarships related to these projects are awarded across the United States. Not being able to participate in this type of activity until the age of 16 would have devastated that aspect of the industry and hindered many from attaining a higher education.
It just isn’t always possible for a farmer or rancher to pay the cost of their child’s tuition. Family farms are not multimillion dollar operations like the corporations own. They need the entire family to keep things afloat from year to year and season to season. They want their children to be educated and come home to help run the business. It is a business for the family, but it is also a way of life.
Recent rising costs of fuel and supplies have stretched the farm budgets to a breaking point and many are having to sell out just to get out of debt. With the smaller family run farms becoming fewer and fewer, this removal of a large portion of the workforce could have been the nail in the proverbial coffin.
- Obama Ban on Youth Farm Chores Part of Larger Power Grab (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Rural kids, parents angry about Labor Dept. rule banning farm chores (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Ron Paul Statement on Labor Department Regulations Affecting Family Farms (fromthetrenchesworldreport.com)