A New Chance to Stop the UN’s Threat to U.S. Sovereignty

By Tom DeWeese

Is the United Nations truly a threat to U.S. sovereignty? Congressman Don Young thinks it is and his efforts to build opposition to UN land grabs are beginning to grow into a strong Congressional force.

One of the biggest debates concerning the United Nations is whether UN World Heritage and Biosphere Reserve programs infringe on American sovereignty. Those supporting the programs correctly point out that UN documents specifically state that each nation maintains its own sovereignty.

However, closer examination reveals that there is a direct threat to national sovereignty, just the same. The problem stems from the program mandates and implementation – and how they link to other treaties and agreements. If those mandates are accepted by Congress, they could lead to direct loss of American sovereignty. Michael Coffman, of Environmental Perspectives, Inc, explains, “when an international treaty or agreement is signed, we agree to the terms and conditions of the agreement, and by default we have given up a portion of our national sovereignty in order to meet those terms and conditions. And while the agreements do not specifically state that the United Nations has sovereignty, they do permit ‘partnerships’ and other forms of cooperation between the U.S. and the UN.”

According to Coffman, “this type of ‘cooperation’ was demonstrated in 1995 when the Department of Interior invited the World Heritage Committee to visit Yellowstone National Park for the expressed purpose of declaring the park a ‘World Heritage Site In Danger.’ Such a designation mandates the U.S. to correct the problem or face withdrawal of the park by the UN as a World Heritage Site, accompanied by much negative publicity and world scorn. And since only the United Nation’s World Heritage Committee can remove the In Danger classification, the United States is forced to abide by the Committee’s recommendations, thereby, indirectly giving up its sovereign right to govern itself.”

According to Professor Jeremy Rabkin of Cornell University, “(f)undamentally, sovereignty is an answer to the question: ‘who is in charge?’ There must be an answer to that question to answer the parallel question: ‘who is responsible?’ A sovereign government is ‘responsible’ for the territory over which it exercises its sovereignty. That is the traditional principle in international law.”

However, Rabkin goes on to explain, “(t)he assumption behind the World Heritage program is that a site of special historic, cultural or scenic importance is better protected by an international consortium of governments than by the particular sovereign state on whose territory it exists. In other words, such sites will be better protected by diffusing responsibility for their protection among many different governments…”

One of the worst affronts to America’s right of self control is the UN’s use of secrecy and deceit in designating a Heritage Site on U.S. (or any nation’s) territory. For instance, the original “World Heritage Operational Guidelines” specifically state: “to avoid possible embarrassment to those concerned, states parties should refrain from giving undue publicity to the fact that a property has been nominated for inscription pending the final decision of the committee on the nomination in question. Participation of local people in the nomination process is essential to make them feel a shared responsibility with a state party in the maintenance of the site, but should not prejudice future decision-making by the committee (emphasis added).”

The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act Is Back

Clearly Congressman Don Young of Alaska believes American land should be controlled by Americans. And he is beginning to build support for that concept in the 106th Congress.

On March 1, 1999, Rep. Young again introduced the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act (H.R.883). And this time he came armed with 126 co-sponsors (and of this writing, support has grown to 158 co-sponsors). Clearly, support is growing for Young’s position on the UN land grab.

Specifically, H.R.883 will:

1. Prevent the Executive Branch (President Clinton) from using World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves or other UN programs to guide domestic land use policies without first consulting with Congress (this is a direct assault on Clinton’s use of Executive Orders for such purposes).

2. Restore meaningful Congressional oversight of these programs.

3. Protect the rights of owners of non-federal lands adjacent to or intermixed with these land reserves.

4. Protect U.S. domestic land decision-making process from international interference.

Young points out that “United Nations land designations, such as UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites, currently take place without approval of Congress and with virtually no congressional oversight.”

According to Rep. Young, “International land use designations, such as the Biosphere Reserve Program, also enable the Executive Branch to implement international treaties without ratification by the U.S. Senate. Yet, the Biosphere Reserve Program is not authorized by a single U.S. law, nor is it even governed by an international treaty.”

There are currently 22 areas in this nation that have been designated as UN World Heritage Sites. These sites include such important American historical sites as Independence Hall (where the Declaration of Independence was signed) and the Statue of Liberty. Now, the UN is in the process of designating at least seventy one more U.S. sites, including the Washington Monument and the Brooklyn Bridge.

The American Land Sovereignty Protection Act requires that Congress approve international land designations in the United States on a case by case basis, because, according to the United States Constitution, Congress possesses the ultimate decision-making power over lands belonging to the people of the United States.

Passage of H.R.883 will, in one swipe, stop the Clinton Administration from implementing unratified, land- grabbing international treaties. At the same time it will begin to eliminate one of the great tactics used by the UN to increase its control over sovereign nations.

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.