You are here

A World Without Pragmatism: Unwrapping Opposition to the LOS Convention

A World Without Pragmatism:

Unwrapping Opposition to the LOS Convention


I spent  large part of the past couple weeks searching through articles published at or before the beginning of the third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. One point that the reading made clear is that positions on the Convention were not split between liberal and conservative views, but rather a between pragmatic conservatism and libertarian ideology. That remains true today, though proponents and opponents of a libertarian viewpoint tend to paint the LOS opposition with the broader brush of conservatism.

The negotiation of the LOS Convention was a Republican-led initiative, from Richard Nixon's 1970 "Draft Convention on the International Seabed" to Ronald Reagan's conditions in 1982 for a Convention that he would support and sign. The 1994 Agreement grew out of Reagan’s guidelines and George H.W. Bush’s quite diplomacy, with the Clinton Administration coming in at the end to close the deal.

The oil and gas industry supported the negotiation of an internationally recognized definition of the continental shelf that removed ambiguity from the definition in the 1958 Geneva Convention on the Continental Shelf. And while the hard minerals industry opposed developing country efforts to establish a central regime with control of exploration and exploitation of deep seabed minerals under a developing state dominated central organization, the objective of the minerals sector was the establishment of a workable regime for deep seabed mining that did not undermine efforts to maintain a favorable investment climate in developing countries ashore, not the wholesale rejection of international organizations and agreements.

I found some of the opposition articles particularly instructive because in the early 1970s the differences between libertarian and conservative were made much more clear.

The Libertarian Perspective:

The most illuminating article I found is "The Seabed Power Struggle" that was republished in "Mining Engineering," the magazine of the Society of Mining Engineers, in 1974 (it was originally published in Reason magazine). The author is Robert Poole, Jr., the co-founder of the Reason Foundation and a mechanical engineer who said he had followed deep seabed mining since his graduation from MIT in 1967

In this article, Poole laid out the libertarian position on the seabed mining regime as it was being debated at the beginning of the LOS Conference. A number of his premises were based on what proved to be erroneous or selective information:

  • He used the involvement of Howard Hughes in supporting seabed mining development as proof of the technical and economic feasibility of deep ocean mining and the commitment of free enterprise to jump ahead in spite of uncertainty. This was only months before Hughes' involvement was shown to be a CIA cover story for efforts to recover a sunken Russian submarine;
  • He presents the "common heritage" concept as envisioned by Elizabeth Mann Borgase and Arvid Pardo as the only alternative to a Libertarian view of "Freedom of the Seas." In both cases, he presented false choices. Much of the negotiations on the seabed regime were focused on how to balance the ideals championed by Borgase and Pardo with the practical concerns of both industrialized and developing states. In the end, Borgese and Pardo were both disappointed and chided the negotiators for failing to fulfill their vision of the common heritage.

The argument opposing to the seabed mining provisions, and through them to the entire LOS Convention, have not been based on an assessment of the tangible and practical interests of the United States and American industry. Instead, they attack the failure of the Convention to endorse the principles of libertarianism and laissez-faire economics. As such, any international regulation (and for some, any national regulation) of economic activities beyond the limits of national jurisdiction would be unacceptable, not because of the impacts on deep seabed mining but they fail to apply a libertarian ideology to management of resources beyond national jurisdiction.

Poole's recommendations for the Law of the Sea were:

"In short, [the United States] should take a firm stand for private property rights on the seabed, free of sovereignty, taxation, and regulation. Exempting ocean development ventures from taxation would underscore the lack of US territorial ambitions to the seabed. (How can the government tax where it has no sovereignty?)"

View of Pragmatic Conservatives

Contemporaneous with Poole’s article, Donald Donahue, the President of AMAX, Inc, then one of the largest American-owned minerals companies, addressed the negotiation of the seabed minerals regime in a presentation to the Fall Meeting of the Society of Mining Engineers. I think it is help to read the entire excerpt to appreciate the insight and understanding demonstrated by Don Donahue and to see that his conclusion is based on an understanding of industry issues and interests and is not an ideological belief, but feel free to skip to the last paragraph of the presentation that I have highlighted in bold type. Here are Donahue’s comments related to the LOS negotiations and the system for seabed mineral development in the context of a broad overview of the future of minerals development:

"As we look into the future we can be sure that, despite our most imaginative technological efforts, compromise and substitution are going to play an ever increasing role in society's use of the world's finite mineral resources -which may be so much more immediately finite in the case of some minerals than others. Therefore, in projecting a future with mineral resources adequate to continue to provide the materials society needs to meet its population growth and standard of living expectations, I can predict that the mix of minerals in use 10 or 25 or 50 years from now will not necessarily be similar to the mix available today. What I am optimistic enough to assume is that our technology of exploration, development, mining, processing and use of minerals, combined with our technologies for using other finite materials, plus great conservation and recycling efforts, and substitution resulting from the free play of market forces, will provide a reasonable mix of the goods needed by mankind in the future, at reasonable cost. It is appropriate now to say something about the mineral resources of the deep seabed. Three-quarters of the earth's crust lies under the oceans. The discovery or recovery of any non-petroleum mineral resources which may be at or near the surface, under the seabed, is a formidable challenge. It will probably await our grandchildren's time, 100 years from now.

But industry is already at work on the recovery of nodules containing nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese that lie on the surface of the deep seabed. Most of the technical work and risk capital has been put up by governments and private companies in a few of the developed countries. There is clear evidence of widespread presence of mineral nodules with indications that certain areas offer considerable concentration both in volume of nodules per square area and also in chemical grades of the nodules. While many millions of dollars have been spent in developing techniques for recovering the nodules from the sea floor, no realistic pilot effort has taken place, so that the economics and even the feasibility of such recovery is still unknown. Furthermore, the beneficiation and metallurgy of converting the nodules into refined products is also unknown since inadequate quantities of nodules have been available to do pilot test work on any realistic scale. Under the most favorable conditions, therefore, it will be a decade or two before supplies of any of these minerals coming from the seabed amount to a s much a s 5% of global production. To achieve even this comparatively by limited output will require the investment of huge amounts of very high risk capital by companies that have the innovative technical skills and financial resources to accept such risks. At present, and for a long time to come, such skills and such capital resources only exist in a few developed countries.

That is why we in the United States and others in England, France, Germany, Japan find it so hard to understand the attitude taken by many of the developing nations at the recent UN Conference on the Law of the Sea in Caracas. In my view, monopolistic control by an international authority under the UN of the development of exploration techniques, of the exploration itself, of efforts to raise the needed risk capital, would simply eliminate any contribution of seabed minerals to meeting the world's mineral needs. We know that there are some countries that really want to achieve just this result, in their short-sighted fear of competition from additional mineral supplies. There are other countries that mistakenly see an easy bonanza in these resources, but it is an illusion for anyone to believe that seabed minerals represent any easy or early or inexpensive bonanza of resources to meet global needs.

I doubt that the Congress in my country would ratify a Convention on the Law of the Sea that monopolized for an international agency all control and profit from the development of seabed resources. Probably the same is true of the parliaments in other major developed countries. Yet, without the technology and the capital of these same nations, there won't be any seabed mineral development. Realism dictates a cool new look at the facts and the politics of seabed mineral development.

But let me make one point clear. The U. S. mining industry supports the creation of an intergovernmental regime to issue exclusive non-discriminatory exploration and production licenses for seabed minerals which would be available to private companies, and supports the concept that there should be reasonable sharing with developing countries of the ultimate benefits of such mining.

Summary

Let the statements speak for themselves as they are as true today as they were in 1974:

The Libertarian Ideology perspective:

"In short, [the United States] should take a firm stand for private property rights on the seabed, free of sovereignty, taxation, and regulation. Exempting ocean development ventures from taxation would underscore the lack of US territorial ambitions to the seabed. (How can the government tax where it has no sovereignty?)"

The Pragmatic Conservative perspective:

“The U. S. mining industry supports the creation of an intergovernmental regime to issue exclusive non-discriminatory exploration and production licenses for seabed minerals which would be available to private companies, and supports the concept that there should be reasonable sharing with developing countries of the ultimate benefits of such mining.”

The point of agreement between pragmatic conservatives and libertarian ideologists was in opposing a “monopolistic control by an international authority under the UN of the development of exploration techniques, of the exploration itself, of efforts to raise the needed risk capital.” The divergence is in what constitutes an acceptable outcome: a victory in principle that fails in practice or a compromise in approaches that results in a system acceptable to all sides.

Since the early Nixon administration, many conservatives, driven by American interests and traditional conservative principles, have supported a pragmatic approach to the resources of the deep ocean floor, such as was realized in the 1994 Agreement and implemented in the two decades of institution-building since the LOS Convention came into force that has established a business-friendly rules-based regime for the development of the minerals of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction while recognizing the interests of developing states. In short, the seabed mineral regime of the LOS Convention is a conservative agreement that is in the interests of the mineral industry and of the United States.

You should check the following web-site http://kamarag.com/levitra-20mg.html http://suhagra100.com/ http://viasild.com/ http://tadalafilgen.com/ if you need the information how to fight with male ED problems. We can answer any of your questions. You are welcome.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer