From Washington

Will the U.S. Senate Follow the House’s Lead in Protecting U.S. Land Sovereignty?

By Tom DeWeese

fter a two-year fight the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congressman Don Young’s "American Land Sovereignty Protection Act" [HR 901] by a vote of 236 to 191. Young’s bill gives decision making power back to the U.S. Congress concerning how United Nation treaties are to impact American sovereignty.

As things stand, that power has been placed in the hands of federal bureaucrats who have used it to pursue their own political agenda, resulting in strong ties with environmental programs coming out of the United Nations. At issue is the 68 percent of national park land that has been placed in Man in the Biosphere program and 21 World Heritage Sites, including the Statue of Liberty and Independence Hall which are now under the direction of the U.N. Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO].

Congressman Young introduced his bill because he believes elected representatives, not bureaucrats, should decide how international treaties are to be interpreted concerning the use of American land. Unlike bureaucrats, members of Congress are subject to the re-election vote of constituents. What do citizens think about giving the United Nations power over American soil? The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act, if enacted and implemented, gives citizens a chance to voice their opinions on land sovereignty issues now left up to bureaucratic discretion.

The Act passed the first of three hurdles when it was approved by the House. It is now in the U.S. Senate where it faces even stronger opposition than it faced in the House. The Senate is less conservative and, moreover, several key conservative senators seem to have embraced the environmental agenda. The Act was assigned to the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Committee Chairman Senator Frank Murkowski tossed it into his subcommittee on National Parks, Historic Preservation and Recreation. That subcommittee, chaired by Senator William Thomas had taken no action on the bill by the time this Nevada Journal went to press and no hearings have been scheduled. It has no Senate sponsor and has not even been assigned a number.

Property rights advocates from across the nation waged a fight to pass the Act in the House. More than 100,000 petitions in support of the bill were presented to House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But the Senate seems not to be listening to the people.

There is great debate in the Senate concerning the validity of the argument that U.N. treaties such as World Heritage Sites and the Man in the Biosphere program surrender American sovereignty to the world body. Those who deny that position say the treaties do not infringe on sovereignty and there is no United Nations control of American soil. Which position is correct?

The confusion leading to this debate stems from conflicting documentation, according to Dr. Michael Coffman, executive director of Sovereignty International and one of the nation’s leading experts on the impact of U.N. treaties. "Contrary to popular belief, the various documents concerning these programs clearly state that the United States maintains sovereignty within the designated areas," Coffman says.

While there is no evidence that the United Nations has ever made a direct management decision for any U.S. site, a review of operations of the U.S. Park Service has been found in the UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s minutes. "That at least provides strong evidence of close collaboration [between federal agencies and the United Nations]," asserts Coffman.

"Even more fundamental is the fact that we have bound ourselves to international agreements and a treaty stipulating that the United States will manage these lands in prescribed ways in order to achieve certain international goals and objectives," he reports. "In other words, we have agreed to limit our right of sovereignty over these lands.

"Not only has the federal government been using these treaties and agreements to limit access to and use of theselands to all Americans, but they have also used these documents to limit the use of private property outside the boundaries of these lands."

The full implementation of such treaties and the Man in the Biosphere program would be a "bureaucrat’s dream" based on a communal-feudal concept of land tenure where non-residents and Non-Governmental Organizations [NGO’s] get to participate in deciding how private as well as public land is used. Only the United Nations designates official NGO’s giving the United Nations direct power to dictate American land use.

Through this voluntary cooperation of federal bureaucrats and the growing power of United Nations NGO’s, the United Nations doesn’t have to have direct sovereignty even if bureaucrats give it to them, Dr. Coffman points out. "Loss of sovereignty is loss of sovereignty no matter how it is packaged. It puts all Americans at risk."

For more information about the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act call the American Policy Center at (703) 925-0881. u

Tom DeWeese is the president of the American Policy Center.


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