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Redefining sovereignty

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 19, 2004

Responding to a constituent's request to oppose the Law of the Seas Treaty, Senator Conrad Burns told his constituent that the treaty did not surrender national sovereignty. When pressed for an explanation of the Senator's claim, when Article 2(3) clearly says, "sovereignty over the territorial sea is exercised subject to this Convention...," the Senator's staff said, "we'll have to get back to you on that."

After three phone calls over seven days, Myron Nordquist responded, not to speak for the Senator, but as an advisor to the Senator. He says that Article 2(3) does not surrender national sovereignty, that it is an "exercise" of national sovereignty. He said, further, that any claim that the treaty surrenders national sovereignty is "complete and utter nonsense." He said, "No international lawyer would agree with such a claim."

Let's read the complete sentence again:

"The sovereignty over territorial sea is exercised subject to this Convention, and other international law."

Sorry, Myron, the only "exercise" of sovereignty allowed by this treaty is the surrender of it.
Your international lawyer friends, and the International Court of Justice may agree with your interpretation, but voters in Montana can read, and decide for themselves what this sentence means.

Myron's interpretation of "...exercised subject to this Convention..." is an example of how national sovereignty is being redefined by the proponents of global governance. This redefinition is being institutionalized through the concept of "sovereign equality," rather than "equal sovereignty."

"Equal sovereignty" means that each nation has an equal right to determine its own destiny. "Sovereign equality" means that each nation has equal rights under a common authority. That common authority, of course, is the United Nations.

Treaties are an important diplomatic tool which sovereign nations use to promote peaceful interchange between and among nations. Treaties are valuable when they are voluntary, and provide mutual benefits to the parties. Nations used treaties for thousands of years before there was a United Nations. Only in recent years has the United Nations insinuated itself as the arbiter and enforcer of treaties on a global basis. In so doing, it is becoming the "common authority," through which sovereign equality can be enforced.

Many powerful people believe that this is the next logical step forward in societal evolution: a world government to keep all nations working toward social and economic equality, and to ensure protection for, and equal benefits from, the earth's natural resources. This is the express goal of "sustainable development."

Under the concept of equal sovereignty, no nation recognizes any authority higher than the sovereignty of its own nation-state. Every nation-state is free to determine its own destiny, and rise or fall because of its own decisions.

The decisions made by the United States since winning its equal sovereignty, have produced a nation unequaled by any other. Most of the other nations in the world seek to contain and control the United States, rather than to emulate the structures that have produced its power.

The United States cannot be defeated; it can, however, be persuaded to surrender its power, and redistribute its wealth, and subject its decisions to the authority of international Conventions and "other rules of international law."

Every U.N. treaty in recent years is another step toward "sovereign equality," which subjects national sovereignty to "international law," administered by the United Nations. The president and the U.S. Senate get this nation into, or keep us from, this growing system of global governance. Voters, ultimately, decide who will make these decisions for the nation. No question is more important to the future of freedom in America, than how the President and the Senators interpret the simple phrase "...sovereignty...is subject to this Convention and other rules of international law."

John Kerry told a Harvard newspaper that he thought U.S. troops should be deployed only at the direction of the U.N. George W. Bush said we don't need permission from the U.N. Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, and the Convention on the International Criminal Court. George W. Bush pulled out of both.

The U.S. Senate refused to ratify the Convention on the Law of the Seas and the Convention on Biological Diversity, only after voters flooded their offices with phone calls in opposition. Proponents of global governance, however, consider these events as obstacles raised by "neo-isolationists," that must be overcome. Once again, they have the Law of the Seas Treaty before the Senate, and a promise to bring back the Convention on Biological Diversity.

If America's sovereignty is to be preserved, voters will, once again, have to rise up and tell their President and their Senators that they can read, and they full understand what it means to subject national sovereignty to "...rules of international law."

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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