International Seabed Authority

Scandal rocks UN Sea Treaty Organization

By —— Bio and Archives--October 18, 2007

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The dramatic case, Sam-Thambiah against the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, involves allegations of sexual harassment and pornography. One side charges “distortions and fabrications.” The other side alleges “mismanagement and irregularities.” What makes this case unique is that it involves the shadowy world of a U.N.-affiliated agency that the U.S. Senate is poised to provide with millions of dollars through ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).


In addition to the explosive corruption case, taken before a United Nations Administrative Tribunal for adjudication, a confidential source in the United Nations has come forward to allege that the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is known for having management problems and that it suffers from a lack of administrative and ethical oversight.

What’s more, a review of the public record demonstrates that many countries belonging to UNCLOS don’t pay their dues or even show up at meetings of the ISA. The notes of one meeting suggest that U.S. ratification of the treaty and membership in the treaty organization could produce more funds to pay more countries to attend.

In effect, Senate ratification of UNCLOS could serve as a financial bailout of a failing and dysfunctional U.N. bureaucracy.

Revelations about scandalous and incompetent behavior at the ISA could not come at a worse time for supporters of UNCLOS. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has held two recent hearings on UNCLOS (with witnesses stacked 9-2 in favor of ratification). The State Department, which has been holding strategy sessions to facilitate ratification, had been hoping that a committee and full Senate vote were only days or weeks away. But the committee has not examined in even a cursory manner the actual operations of the ISA.

State Department Lies

Ratification has already been complicated by the failure of Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte and Legal Adviser John B. Bellinger III to be honest with senators about how provisions in the treaty regarding prevention of pollution from land-based sources can be used to sue the United States over its greenhouse gas emissions. One member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator David Vitter, has cited evidence that international lawyers intend to use those provisions to sue the U.S. and force costly and draconian reductions in the use of energy blamed for global warming. He accused Bellinger of providing false testimony to the committee.

Another member, Senator Bob Corker, has told a Tennessee newspaper that the hearings have “raised more questions” than they answered and that more needs to be learned before the treaty is voted on.

By ratifying UNCLOS, the Senate could automatically make American taxpayers the largest contributors to the ISA, paying some 25 percent of the ISA


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Cliff Kincaid -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Cliff Kincaid is president of America’s Survival, Inc. usasurvival.org.

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