Who Owns Our Biospheres And World Heritage Sites?

by Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D.

The United Nations has sovereignty over the 47 UNESCO registered World Biosphere Reserves and 20 World Heritage Sites in the United States – right? Well, not really, but sort of… Confused? Join the crowd. Our sovereignty is being given away, but not necessarily in the way you might think.

Contrary to popular belief, the various documents concerning these programs clearly state that the U.S. maintains sovereignty within the designated areas. While there is no evidence that the United Nations has ever made a direct management decision for any U.S. sites, a review of U.S. Park Service documents was found in UNESCO World Heritage Committee’s minutes. This at least provides strong evidence of close collaboration.

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

In the case of the 1972 World Heritage Treaty, the President and the U.S. Senate had a Constitutional, albeit misguided right to do so as part of their delegated powers.

Congress, however, has never passed any law permitting the U.S. to enter into agreements that commit the U.S. to the incredible list of provisions and socialistic goals contained within the UNESCO International Biosphere Program.

The problem is not in the noble-appearing goals of these programs, but in their mandates which would subvert our Constitutional protections and republican form of government if fully implemented.

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

The most recent example of this is the invitation by the Clinton Administration to the World Heritage Committee to list Yellowstone National Park as a World Heritage Site In Danger.

Such action totally circumvented the NEPA process and U.S. law, and allowed President Clinton to bully a mining company into abandoning a perfectly legal mine development project that was predominantly private property.

The U.S. Man and Biosphere Program (USMAB) is touted in UNESCO documents as being “the first step in implementing the Convention of Biological Diversity.” If fully implemented, it would be a bureaucrat’s dream come true. It is based on a communal-feudal concept of land tenure where “stakeholders” (including non-residents and nongovernmental organizations – NGO’s) get to participate in deciding how private as well as public land is used.

It is structured around the idea of private/public “partnerships” where non-elected, unaccountable commissions, agencies or councils “represent” the people’s will and implement and enforce land use regulations across jurisdictional boundaries.

One only has to look at the Champlain-Adirondack Biosphere Reserve in Vermont and New York to see how this would work. A parallel concept has actually been implemented since 1972 within the Adirondack State Park by New York State.

Instead of the robust, thriving communities promised in USMAB literature, the Adirondack economy has been devastated, the culture and much of the infrastructure frozen in time, and the people repressed by a communal-feudal land tenure structure where a non-elected, non-representative NGO-controlled Adirondack Park Agency develops and enforces arbitrary and capricious regulations across multiple counties.

The UN doesn’t have to have direct sovereignty if bureaucrats “give” it to them.

Loss of sovereignty is loss of sovereignty no matter how it is packaged. It puts all Americans at risk.

Dr. Coffman is executive director of Sovereignty International, Inc., based in Bangor, Maine (207) 945-9878

Tom DeWeese
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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.