Conservative Groups Block International Sea Treaty

The U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea — a comprehensive international accord governing the use of oceans for shipping, fishing, mining, and naval operations — has been signed by the U.S. and unanimously approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but it languishes in the Senate nonetheless, awaiting a final vote. Environmental groups have supported the treaty for years, saying it provides important tools to protect ocean ecosystems. A thwarted treaty supported by enviros is no big news — but this treaty is also supported by oil and mining companies, as well as the Defense and State departments. So what’s the holdup? A vocal coalition of far-right groups objects to the multinational agreement because … well, because it’s multinational. “All these U.N. treaties are invasions of our sovereignty,” said Phyllis Schlafly of the conservative Eagle Forum. An aide to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the treaty’s main Senate advocate, said the conservative objections were expected, but “what did surprise us is that the administration kowtowed to them so quickly.”