Reclaiming “Sovereignty” (the Word) and Wrapping LOST in the Flag

by Peter Spiro

Supporters of US ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty now have a network home, curiously called “The American Sovereignty Campaign.” It seems to be a serious undertaking, counting the US Chamber of Commerce and the Pew Charitable Trusts among its members, running this polished ad in the print media.

What of the use of “sovereignty” here?  From the coalition’s website:

Here you will find the supporting documents and testimonials that demonstrate the overwhelming support for immediate ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty.  As you will see, the need for action is greater than it has ever been in order to protect and expand America’s sovereignty and national and economic security.

And from that ad (quoting John Negroponte):

With ratification, America would secure international recognition of the greatest expansion of resource sovereignty in its history, gaining exclusive access to resources in a region larger than the area of the Louisiana Purchase and Alaska combined.

So UNCLOS is pro-sovereignty because it literally (littorally) and legally recognizes US jurisidiction over huge swathes of the ocean.  You have to admire this PR attempt to meet opponents on their own rhetorical terms, which is NOT to predict that this novel use of “sovereignty” will have political legs.

3 Responses

  1. Response…
    First, when you use Westlaw to check federal cases using the word “sovereignty” you will often see that early and consistent use in one respect was to affirm that sovereignty is in the people of the United States and not in the government(s).  This may not matter much here.
    Second, what about the term “America”? Is not Canada part of North America and, therefore, America? And Mexico? etc.?  We know that some refer to persons from the United States as Americans, but it is equally true that people from Canada and Mexico are Americans.  And then there are all those other countries in America, and Americans.

  2. I think United States government would not allow themselves embattled with the future setbacks of the Law of the Sea.  United States government is closed when it comes to freedom navigation; what they want is literally abuse navigation. Visit my site:

  3. Regel Javines: ” United States government is closed when it comes to freedom navigation…”

    Well, we do provide GPS to the entire world…. 

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