A century ago, H.M.S. Challenger discovered that vast areas
of the sea floor were covered by nodules containing valuable manganese,
nickel, copper, and cobalt. They remained only a scientific curiosity though
thousands of feet under water. Now huge vacuum cleaners have been developed
to suck the nodules from the ocean floor. Several American companies want to
begin mining, but the United States has agreed in principle in ten years of
negotiations on the Law of the Sea that the resources of the seabed are the
"Common Heritage of Mankind," and that any ocean mining operation should be
under the control of an international agency. The eighth session of the Law
of the Sea Conference is about to convene. But there is growing sentiment
within the U.S. Congress that we should allow American mining companies to
proceed without international approval. Should the U.S. agree to
international control of undersea mining?
Good evening and welcome to The Advocates, I'm Marilyn
Berger. This unprepossessing lump is the cause of our debate tonight. It's a
manganese nodule, tens of thousands of years old. It's mostly manganese but
it also contains small amounts of valuable cobalt, nickel and copper, enough
to make the nodules very interesting to multi-million dollar mining
operators launched by consortia from the United States, Belgium, Canada,
Britain, Germany and Japan. Since almost all of these nodules lie in the
deep seabed outside any country's territorial jurisdiction, the big question
is who, if anyone owns them and who has the right to mine them. This week in
Geneva the eighth United Nations conference on the Law of the Sea is
meeting. Over the last ten years, 150 countries have reached contingent
agreement on 320 out of 350 separate articles on a comprehensive law of the
sea. It governs things like fishing, rights of passage, scientific research
and territorial limits. But the single most difficult issue remaining is who
shall control the exploitation of the mineral resources of the seabed? This
afternoon I talked with Elliot Richardson, United States Ambassador to the
Law of the Sea Conference.
After 25 years in government I thought I knew something
about negotiation but this Law of the Sea Conference is the most
complicated, difficult effort I've ever seen. You got 150 countries with
intense interest in all kinds of things and are trying somehow to
accommodate those interests in the effort to create a comprehensive code of
law for the oceans.
Mr. Ambassador, what are the stakes for the United States
and what does it mean to the ordinary American citizen?
Well it means in the first place freedom of navigation in
over flight, it means access to fisheries, the protection of fishery
resources, protection to the marine environment, it means that our
scientists will have a regime under which they can conduct scientific
Are you suggesting that we’ll have none of those unless we
come to an agreement on the deep sea?
No I wouldn't say we won't have any of them, what we won't
have is a secure and stable regime that is capable of preventing the
conflicts that would otherwise arise.
I see, thanks very much. And so our question tonight is
should the United States agree to international control of undersea mining?
Advocate Randall Robinson is director of Trans Africa, a foreign policy
lobbying group in Washington.
Thank you Ms. Berger. Those little lumps of metallic ore
only symbolize the real issue of this debate. And that is, shall the United
States continue the same shortsighted foreign policy, a colonialism that
brought us disgrace in Vietnam, embarrassment in Chile, and more recently
failure in Iran, or as my witnesses and I will argue, shall we share the
resources that rightfully belong to everyone? With me tonight to make this
case are Ralph Ochan, international law attorney and former delegate to the
U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea, and Peter McCloskey, Republican
Congressman and member of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and
Fisheries. The choices are clear, we can promote war or build peace. By the
year 2000 the world's population will double to 8 billion. At the same time
30 or 40 nations will have the capability to make and deliver nuclear
weapons. Yet today most of the world cannot even afford to feed itself. Left
unchecked this is a program for holocaust. If however, the United States
agrees to international control of deep seabed mining, we can begin to turn
this horrid scenario around. The U.S. has already supported a U.S.
resolution declaring the oceans and their beds as a common heritage of
mankind. Let us now go forward to share those resources so the rest of the
world will have more funds to feed itself. Agreement on this issue means
agreement on a whole new legal order for three quarters of the world's
surface and for the first time in history a binding international authority
to settle dispute. Humanity deserves nothing less.
Thank you. Advocate Lew Crampton is a senior
analyst at the Arthur D. Little Company.
Thank you Marilyn. Control of undersea mining by a
centralized, restrictive international super government is hostile to our
national values, and to our economic future. With me tonight to argue
against such control are Northcutt Ely, a world renowned authority on the
legal issues surrounding ocean mining and John Flipse, a pioneer in ocean
mining and founder of Deep Sea Ventures. The United States has a critical
need for these metals. The floor of the ocean has those metals. The United
States has the technological and the economic means to recover these metals.
There are no legal, environmental or moral obstacles to our applying that
technology. Does this mean then that the United States will get the metals
that it needs? No it does not. United States policy has consistently refused
to recognize its own best interest in this matter. We have traded those
interests for concessions in a Law of the Sea Treaty. We do not need these
concessions, we need the metals, and we need the security of supply and the
economic benefits that those metals will bring. Tonight we will demonstrate
that international control by a restrictive monopoly authority will reduce
U.S. and world investments in undersea mining, reduce incentives for
technology development, deny the United States the assured access that it
needs to these metals, raise the price of those metals to consumers
throughout the world, and reduce the resources available for redistribution
to the Third World. We must reject those controls. Thank you.
Thank you. The questions at stake tonight are
these. What is meant by the principle that the seabed is the "Common
Heritage of Mankind?" Is it owned by anyone, everyone or no one? Should
there by an international agency which controls who can mine and where and
for how long? Should it in some form collect revenues on deep sea mining?
Should the agency itself engage in mining? Should it distribute any revenues
it collects, and if so to whom? Finally should we risk losing all the
agreements reached to date by refusing to agree to international controls?
Now let's go to the cases. Mr. Robinson the floor is yours.
Thank you. I call as my first witness Mr. Ralph
Mr. Ochan, welcome to The Advocates.
Mr. Ochan, you're an international lawyer and former
delegate to the U.N. Law of the Sea Conference.
Why is this question of U.S., international, or
international control of deepsea mining so important?
I think it's important because it's crucial to world
How will it, how could it affect world peace?
In several ways. First of all it could affect world peace
in so far as we already have experienced. Ten years of negotiations which
are going reasonably smoothly and we do expect that the world community will
recognize the vital importance of these negotiations, but most important I
feel that these unilateral, threatened unilateral actions that unfortunately
seems to be coming out of the United States Congress will lead to a
unilateral and greedy seabed robbing by coastal states. This is the biggest
threat that I see to world peace.
Are you suggesting that this will be tantamount to the, to
the grab for Africa in the last century?
I suggest that very strongly and I suggest further that
the United States should not renegate on its 1970 resolution on its
contribution, collective contribution to the 1970 declaration, by the United
Nations that the seabed and the resources therein are the common heritage to
What does that mean?
Well I can give you what it means to us in the Third
World. It's crucial to us because we feel that seabed resources are the last
finite possible resources for mankind. The majority of our people live in
object poverty, we feel that these resources of the seabed which belong to
mankind as a whole should be used to the progressive decrease of the gap
that exists in the economic status of the world.
Are you suggesting that the understanding in the Third
World is that these resources belong to all of mankind?
That is precisely it. These resources belong to mankind as
a whole and steps have already been taken towards the implementation of the
common heritage concept practically. I would go further and say that we
believe in the common heritage concept because all the attempts that have
been carried on early in international relations to improve the economic
status in the Third World have let us down. We have not in any way, I
wouldn't say not in any way, we have not to a noticeable degree benefited
from the economic relation that we share with the First World which is
imposed on us several years ago.
Now Mr. Ochan, the United States has indicated support for
the common heritage notion, President Nixon said so, President Johnson said
so. Why should the U.S. want to control international support of seabed
First of all I think it's in the best interest of the
United States to support seabed mining. Because first of all as I said
earlier, it's crucial to world peace, and if these resources are utilized
for inequitable distribution of worth, of wealth, improving the conditions
of living of the poor people in the Third World, the United States shares an
interest in the kind of stable world that would result from equitable
distribution of wealth.
Why do we need an international authority to fluctuate
We need a unilateral authority because all international
organizations, all international institutions that were created for the
management of resources have so far let us down. Two United Nations
development decades have failed us miserably. The 0.7 percent GNP of the
First World that you agree, that the First World agreed to contribute to
By First World you mean the western nations?
Industrialized western world. They agreed that 0.7 percent
of their GNP would be used towards development assistance. This hasn't
materialized. The negotiations in the United Nations conference in trade and
development has not amounted to much.
Mr. Robinson, we'll be able to come back to you in
a minute. Mr. Crampton you have an opportunity now to cross examine the
Thank you. Mr. Ochan, you describe in your testimony some
of the components of some this international control structure, or at least
you sketched them out. I'd like you to be a little more specific if you
don't mind so the American people who are watching this debate will get some
idea of what international control really means. First of all how would this
organization arrive at its decisions and exercise its powers? Are you
talking about some sort of one-nation, one-vote concept of decision making
I'm talking about a decision making structure that would
not allow any one individual country, whether it be a developing country or
a developed country, to impose its will on the international
Nonetheless, how would decisions be made? One-nation,
Um, there are two structures as you are probably
aware. There is the council and then the general assembly. That is the
proposed structure. By the way I must state here that these are proposals
before international community. Negotiations are still going on and for
It's true. But I'm asking you for your conception.
My conception is that there will be a good balance
between the council and the authority just like your federal structure works
I guess, you have two senators per state and yet, well it's probably the
other way around, but anyway the representation is balanced between the
Congress and the members of the House of Representatives and the
You're telling me that all of, pardon me for interrupting,
but it seems to me that all the proposals that I've read have had something
like one-nation, one-vote, majoritarian rule, which in effect, I think would
have the United States out-voted by the 54 countries in Africa.
Have you also noticed that that there is what they
call the special interest representation on council -
But the council does not rule, it's the authority the
assembly that is that controls the functions of the council.
The assembly is the final, final policy making body. If we
agree to disagree on that, fine. Let's go forward. What would you have this
body do? For example would you have it control the level of production that
the enterprise could come up with?
I would have this body make sure, insure that the
resources and money in such a way that there are no adverse affects to the
consumers, there are no adverse affects to the, to the producers, in other
words it will be a very, ideally, it's a very equitable proposal that we're
coming up with.
Wouldn't controlling production drive up world
It depends on whether it's properly managed or
Well we'll see what happens, okay? Would this particular
body give out sites to mining entities? In other words, would it control
the process of site selection?
The authority would not control but it will work in
full cooperation with already existing enterprises.
Well what does that mean? I mean, I've heard that what it
means is that a mining company, a consortia will go out and find on 1 or 2
or 3 site, bring them to the enterprise, then the enterprise will pick the
site that it wants to reserve to itself, giving the U.S. consortium the
worst of the two sights.
That is an extremely unfortunate interpretation of
But it happens in fact to be the case in the language,
it's not the case that in the language of that it says that discrimination
in favor of developing countries is not to be deemed discrimination at
Well if that is the case then we are playing by the
rules of free enterprise, the kinds of institutions imposed on us by U.S.
free enterprises that mine copper and other minerals in Africa for example
precisely amount to that. We have no say in the matter. But I'm not saying
that is the proposal. I'm simply saying that these are proposals before the
conference, nothing is definitive. It's a working document that we have
The entire range of what is definitive and this is my
point, and you helped me to make it. The entire range of what is definitive
works to the United States' complete disadvantage. You went through a whole
group of reasons as to why the United States ought to favor this proposal.
As far as I'm concerned when you start talking about the details of this,
there's no reason at all for the United States to get involved.
I think if nothing else, if you feel that the
proposals are entirely against the United States, balances against the
conflict that would arise in the event that there is no agreement at all.
You're thinking of four minerals and balancing it against 16 other minerals
that are available to the United States and saying these four outweigh the
rest of the United States -
Mr. Ochan, let me ask you another question.
This is going to have to be a very quick question,
Mr. Crampton, and a quick answer.
Correct. The self interest of the mining company is not
the only self interest involved here is it? Some of these countries, some of
the underdeveloped countries in the group of 77 in fact are land based
producers and they are supporting production controls which actually work to
the benefit or the dis-benefit of other developing countries. Is that not
All I'm suggesting all I'm suggesting to you is that
the interests of the mining companies are a primary factor in the threat of
unilateral action by the United States.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Ochan, may I interject a question here? You
mentioned free enterprise and Mr.. Crampton did too. What if it were not
economically valuable for particular consortia to go in and do the mining if
they felt they had to share it all? Would there be a sharing of a very small
pie for everyone?
That is why I would suggest that the best agency for
the production of these resources which have the interests of all mankind
not a few mining companies, not a few share holders, should be done by the
agencies that best represent the interest of the entire mankind and that is
Sir, would they have the money for the capital
I'm sure the banks would be able to loan the money
if the governments give the guarantee that we are behind the venture.
Thank you. Mr. Robinson you have further
Mr. Ochan, what we're debating here tonight is the
principle of international control of internationally owned resources and
not the question of the mechanism of it. Would you like to discuss that
Yes, I'm glad you asked that because I think the
questions I've been asked really deal with proposals of implementing a very
vital principle. The principle of international corporations, the principle
of the oneness of mankind, the principle of the universal brotherhood, of
sharing what belongs to all particularly in the benefit of the least
advantaged members of that same community. I can go on and describe to you
the object conditions of some of the members of the international community
but I'm not going to do that, I simply am…
Mister - Oh, I'm sorry.
It's a question of principle we're discussing. The
technicality of it can always be worked out and that is what the Law of the
Sea Conference is all about.
I want you to address…
This is going to have to be very quick.
in just a few seconds, why it's important to address first
the needs of the Third World with these new resources to be distributed and
what the disparities have been between the Third World and the developed
The disparities are amazing. I'll give you an
example of a simple pluratism in American manufacturing - tractors. In 1965
when we exported raw materials in exchange for tractors we would export
maybe one ton of sessile for one American tractor. But in 1974 we now need
about 10 tons of the same product for that single tractor whose cost might
have only increased by 50 percent. But you can see that the kind of demands
on our limited resources to even get the instruments barely necessary for
our survival is so strong that we've absolutely no chance of breaking out of
the poverty cycle - if these kinds of trends that we see particularly
through the proposed legislation for unilateral mining in the seabed goes
Alright, thank, you very much Mr. Ochan, we're
going to move on to the next witness, thank you very much for joining us on
The Advocates. Mr. Crampton, would you like to call your first witness in
Yes, thank you very much. I call Northcutt Ely.
Mr. Ely, welcome to The Advocates.
Mr. Ely in our testimony this evening, I'd like to
establish first of all that these metals are essential, that the U.N.
declaration has no bona fide effect, that international control is not in
our best interests. First of all let's establish about whether or not those
minerals are essential. Can you do this for us please?
They are indeed, the metals contained in the deep sea
nodules are manganese, cobalt, nickel and copper. We produce copper, we
import all of the others. And all of the others are vital to the survival of
American industry, -American economy.
Now it's been said by the Defense Department that, in
their own testimony, that these minerals are not in fact essential. Would
you refute that please?
The Defense Department has used figures of the Bureau
of Mines that have caused the Bureau of Mines as much distress as they have
me. Because they had misunderstood them, specifically the assistant
Secretary of Defense, Mr. McGifford testified there is not need for
manganese because the reserves available in the world were of the order of 6
billion tons. He neglected to say that more than half of these are in South
Africa and the Soviet Union. And he neglected to say that these include not
only reserves but implied, inferred, and hoped for reserves. The Bureau of
Mines estimate of the reserves of manganese firmly available for industry in
the free world are about a tenth of that number, 600 million and that the
estimates are that by about 1985 the rate of production from the six
countries that supply us manganese will have declined to the point where the
increasing demand for manganese will cross.
Mr. Ely, let me ask you another question. Our opponents in
the name of principle have made some declarations that the United Nations by
virtue of its own declaration has acquired some pre-emptive rights for these
nodules, the common benefit of mankind. Does this declaration have any
No. The declaration that's spoken of is a resolution
of the assembly of the United Nations, that declared among other things that
the minerals of the seabed were the common heritage of all
The United States supports this position?
Yes, in the sense that shows freedom of the seas,
right of navigation, right to be free of pollution, these are common
heritage to mankind, of course.
From the standpoint of our own hard-headed practical
interests, which you're certainly qualified to talk about, what do we need
to have international control in order to go ahead and mine
What is needed is a very simple regime that keeps the
environment protected, that restricts against grabbing, hogging of excess
areas that won't be developed which lead to the production of the metals at
the lowest possible cost to the consumer and which gives adequate supplies
for industry. It does not require a super government as this scheme is.
We're not talking about a vague proposal but a specific document the
composite negotiating text which provides for an assembly, one nation, one
vote, 155 in this legislature a council with the minor powers, the assembly
is the supreme order.
Let me ask you this. I mean, do you, do you really feel
that it is appropriate to talk about a principle without really talking
about the effective concreteness of what's going to happen when that
principle is actually out there operating?
Well, of course you'll have an operating super
government. It's not just a principle anymore, it has thousands of
employees. It'll last forever.
Suppose there were no treaties. Would that be a real loss
to the United States?
No, Ambassador Richardson is right when he says that a
sound treaty is a good thing to have, of course it is but if we don't have
one, the other elements that are in this treaty are now so recognized as
practice of states, that without a treaty they would survive.
How would you characterize the kind of organization that
we would be likely to get as a result of the ICNT, the Law of the Sea
It will be a, an international super government, that
is not hyperbole, with a legislature with power to legislate, unlike the
assembly of the United Nations with a tribunal, a supreme court, with a
secretariat. I'd call it a floating Chinese pagoda.
Let me ask you a very simple question. Very simple
question. Will it work?
It will be a continuing headache.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Robinson, would you like to cross examine Mr.
Yes, thank you. Mr. Ely, I have a housekeeping question or
two I'd wish you answer very briefly, so that I can use my time well here.
Have you ever had a lawyer-client relationship with any of the mining
companies that are conducting this exploration?
Yes I do. I'm not here in the representative
capacity, but I have the honor to be counsel to one of the four
Now do you think Mr. Ely, that your view and the view of
the, those mining companies is that these resources do not belong to all
the nations that would lay claim to them subject to the 1970 resolution ,
but belong to anyone who can get to them first and get it up from the ocean
Well you've stated a little bit, a little bit off
balance. The minerals of the seabed are under the existing international
law, available to all mankind without discrimination. Access is free to all
of them just as right of navigation on the surface of the ocean is free to
all. We don't have to get a permit from anybody to have a right to the fish
of the sea, or to sail over it.
But effectively Mr. Ely, does that mean that those who
don't have the technology to get these minerals up from the floor bottom
have no real meaningful possession?
Well any more that I do personally. I can't go out
and dig them up either. But they have a right to participate if they choose
in the financing of enterprises to do this.
Let's talk about the treaty for a moment. In the interest
of the three minerals that we're talking about getting, are you prepared to
see or go away the negotiations that have gone on for so long to establish a
treaty that can mean so much in terms of dispute settlement. Just think of
all of the wars we'd have to start because of ocean conflicts. We look at
the Spanish American War, Vietnam War, all started because of ocean
conflicts. Now we have a framework for resolution of those kinds of
conflicts. Are you prepared to see this kind of remarkable beginning?
Well with all due respect, I don't mean this
personally. I've heard this so often, it's such a tired argument. The notion
that because the United States insists upon the continuance of the freedom
of the seas that's existed for three centuries, that somehow we're
responsible for starting a war. The only conflict that will arise will come
from terrorists, who attempt to sabotage this lawful exercise of the freedom
of the sea.
Are you suggesting since you seem to think that the law
that has applied for centuries still continues to apply, are you suggesting
that the 1970 declaration means nothing? That the common heritage
declaration that meant to so many people that there was common ownership and
common rights to this, these resources is absolutely meaningless since these
countries don't have the capacity to get these things up from the ocean
Let me give you, let me give you a straight answer.
I've agreed with Ambassador Richardson that the existing customary law does
give the nations of the world the right to mine the seabed without asking
permission from anyone. But I suggest this: that if there is a genuine
dispute over this, it can be resolved very quickly by submitting the issue
to the International Court of Justice. And I recommend this is important
now, I recommend that the Assembly of the United Nations request an advisory
opinion from the International Court of Justice on two points. One, whether
customary law, under customary law, there is a free right to access to the
seabed minerals, and second, whether that will change by a United Nations
Excuse me Mr. Robinson, we're going to have to
move on. Mr. Ely, thank you very much for joining us on The Advocates.
For those of you who may have joined us late our
question tonight is, Should the United States agree to international control
of undersea mining? Advocate Randall Robinson has presented one witness,
Ralph Ochan in favor of international control. Advocate Lew Crampton has
presented one witness against, that was Mr. Northcutt Ely. Mr. Crampton, I
believe you now have another witness.
Thank you very much. I call Mr. John Flipse.
Mr. Flipse, welcome to The Advocates.
Mr. Flipse, in our testimony this evening I'd like to
establish how important these minerals are to us, how extraneous ideological
and political considerations have kept us from getting them and under what
conditions the mining industry would go forward to mine. First of all, why
should the United States, that's us, encourage the mining of manganese
We should encourage it for two fundamental
reasons. One if strategic and I think Mr. Ely made the point well. We import
almost all of our manganese. It is an essential element to our steel
manufacturers. We import all of our cobalt and without cobalt we would not
have turbine blazed aircraft engines and the aircraft industry. In other
words, there are fundamental strategic reasons for us to get these metals.
The other reason is economic. We have to buy them and if we could produce
them as domestic metals, it would be very valuable to our economy. It is
also in my opinion an excellent opportunity for U.S. technology and
Is it likely to be profitable in the next decade?
It's going to be difficult to make it profitable.
I think the world has been done an injustice with this concept of a bonanza
from the sea floor. It's hard.
A gold rush occurring out there?
It's going to be hard work to recover the nodules
and to process the metals and compete against the land sources, but on the
other hand, the industries that are involved have downstream needs, without
having the manganese, you can't make the steel, the steel, shapes the
bridges and the other products that our economy depends on.
So the downstream need means that you protect your source
of feedstock so that you can use it further on down the production
What we, why haven't we moved already as a country and as
an industry for that matter to exploit these materials?
Because the underlying uncertainty of the
prolonged debate of the Law of the Sea Conference.
So it's political reasons?
Well it's not prudent for businessmen to put their
money in this or the stockholders money in this endeavor unless they're
assured of continued access to the seabed deposits which would feed their
machinery, their plant, their processing plant, and support their
Mr. Flipse, could you tell us please, and I think it's
important, what aspects of international control of undersea mining would be
particularly onerous to the industry?
The, there are so many that this is an easy
question if I had all night. But let me…
Feel free to elaborate.
But not all night.
But not all night.
Let me hit the principle problems. One is
production control. It is essential when you're running a mining and
processing operation that you have a economic level and that you be allowed
to continue to produce at that level. That's provided the controlled under
the current treaty text. Another problem is that you're competitor, this is
the enterprise of the authority, would be calling the shots and making your
business decisions. They would be the control organization. And even worse
problem is that no matter how we could iron out the details of the treaty
today, 20 years from now that would be re-negotiated where it we didn't
satisfy the other party we would lose all of our rights. Totally untenable
Mr. Crampton, we'll come back to you in a minute.
Mr. Robinson, would you like to cross examine?
Yes, Mr. Flipse, I understand that you were once
President of Deep Sea Ventures.
Is that so? Now if it's not profitable, to have four U.S.
companies involved in this kind of enterprise, why would a country, why
could a company put 50 million dollars into, into its research and
development? Even Kennecott Copper wouldn't do anything, it wouldn't spend
money unless it could make money. You seem to contradict yourself.
Hardly, when we got started in this business there
was no Law of the Sea Conference and there was the full opportunity to go
forward and see if we could in fact develop the technology that would permit
the mining and processing of seabed nodules.
Are you suggesting that the Law of the Sea Conference is
going to reduce the profit margin you say is going to be small?
It would probably preclude the formation of a
commercial mining venture under the present terms of the treaty
So are you suggesting that were there no Law of the Sea
Conference, then the profit picture would look much better for you?
It's a very hypothetical question. Unfortunately
You suggested a while ago that the profits would be
The incentives were that this was a potentially
profitable business. It now appears that it is a feedstock proposition.
Those people who need the metals will proceed with deepsea mining if it can
Mr. Flipse, the Defense Department has said that these
mine sites, let's assume that you chose 5 to work, the consortia chose 5 to
work from 1885 on, these mine sites could not be defended. This country
can't defend them. Who's going to defend them? Are you going to defend
I certainly would not care to be on an ocean
mining ship at a time of war. I don't think that's the issue.
No we're not talking about war. We're talking about
defending a mining site from those who lay equal claim to its ownership.
This is common heritage property. So that what give your company the
unilateral right to go forward and mine than based on 1970 declaration. So
that I can well imagine that any number of Third World countries,
tremendously disgruntled by disparities and hardships that they suffer would
impose all kinds of hardships on you on the high seas. Now how are you going
to do that?
We never seriously considered that this type of
vandalism or harassment was a possibility at an ocean mining site which is
being conducted under U.S. law.
Would you consider it now?
Probably in exactly the same way that people who
run the off shore oil industry consider it.
Yeah, but what's that mean?
It means that they are proceeding there are
interest, there are techniques for handling the threats and that this is a
normal kind of a concern of anyone who is operating on the high
There are techniques for handling the threats? Would you
I can't explain it in the time permitted in this
Are you suggesting that, you're suggesting that as a
possible policy for a country, for companies undertaking this kind of
exploitation. What are you suggesting?
I'm suggesting that the same common sense that
handles the off- shore oil drilling, producing, and transportation those
same principles can be applied to off shore mining.
Mr. Flipse, we have 108 countries including the United
States that supports the common heritage concept. And support it to the
extent that they believe that these properties are shared by all countries,
owned by all countries. Why is it that the United States would jeopardize a
ground breaking treaty to lead the way unilaterally to allow companies to go
forward and mine before a treaty is put in place.
I think the incentive to the United States
Congress is to make the ocean mining of seabed minerals possible through its
Is that an incentive to the Congress, or is that an
incentive to the mining industry?
It's an incentive in my opinion to the world
because only if this happens is there likely to be serious
But Mr. Flipse, the Congress has said that the minerals
are not needed, not immediately, the Department of Defense has said
We're going to need a quick answer.
But mining industry people say quite differently.
It would take at least 10 years to get this
business going on a producing level and by the end of 10 years I feel that
there will be a need for these minerals.
Well, then why can't we wait?
Excuse me, Mr. Robinson we're going to go on. Mr.
Crampton, do you have further questions?
Yes, the question of whether or not these materials are
needed or not, clearly there is a body called the National Academy of
Sciences which could, shall we say moderate this dispute between the Defense
Department and the Bureau of Mines. It's not appropriate for us to send that
dispute to them for resolution?
The Academy of Sciences has held or conducted
seven studies and the basic conclusion that they have reached is there is no
short term, in other words 5 to 10 year need, for these metals from new
sources but that the long term needs are very clear.
Let me ask you a very important question, because it's a
matter that concerns the entire industry and whether or not these principles
that we're talking about so gaily are in fact going to work out. Will
companies, the mining industry go forward and mine now under the provisions
of the Law of the Sea Treaty that's been proposed?
I do not believe they will and the continuous
delay is the evidence that supports my case.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much Mr. Flipse, thank you for
joining us on The Advocates. Mr. Robinson, do you have a witness in
I call Congressman Pete McCloskey.
Mr. McCloskey welcome to The Advocates.
Congressman McCloskey, should the U.S. agree to
international control -
- of undersea mining? Why?
We first of all, we have agreed to in 1970 we
joined in that declaration that deep seabed nodules were part of the common
heritage to mankind and we have led the way for the last 9 years in trying
to negotiate a treaty which would provide for international supervision. The
second factor is that the basis of the minerals which the gentlemen on the
opposite side say are so desperately needed to the United States, there are
only 3 key minerals, manganese, copper, excuse me, manganese, nickel, and
cobalt which we can secure a guaranteed supply. There are ten other minerals
upon which we depend for more than 80 percent of our needs, from the same
countries that if we destroyed this treaty by going ahead to secure the 3
minerals could very well agree to withhold from us the other 10. So, to get
the 3 minerals which are necessary, we could jeopardize 10 like chromium
which come from the countries of the developing world — primarily. Second
the benefit of those 3 minerals is outweighed in my judgment by the fact
that if we destroy the treaty, we're destroying the first almost incredibly
new concept that three quarters of the surface of the earth will have its
disputes settled by international tribunal. And I might point out that in
the great wars that we fought, the question of whether the Lusitania should
properly be sunk on its way to aid the Allies, which led us into World War
1, recently the Pueblo and the Mayaguez the Turner Joy led us into
confrontation because it could not be agreed whether North Korea had a 12
mile limit or a 3 mile limit as we claimed. We have countries now claiming a
200 mile limit we claim they only have the right to a 12 mile limit. If one
of our ships is sunk or seized we face the danger of war as we did with the
Mayaguez, the Pueblo and the Turner Joy. If we can establish a dispute
settlement mechanism, it's worth a tremendous amount more to this world than
the 3 minerals that are here at stake.
That sounds eminently sensible, why are we rushing toward
unilateral mining approach then?
Well to be honest we haven't rushed it is a
dismay and an impatience that is, that I think is a characteristic of the
American nature that these negotiations have been going on for 9 years since
1970. They've been frustrating, 156 nations negotiating is even more painful
than watching the Congress in operation, and for that reason the mining
companies have obtained some sympathy from my colleagues in the House and
Senate that if we can't get a treaty and quite frankly the language of the
treaty now that the Third World has demanded is probably unacceptable. And
if we can't get a treaty then, and the only, in my judgment, would it
justify us going ahead.
What's, what would be the benefit to the U.S. -
international control of seabed mining?
Well it isn't so much that it would be a
benefit. I have to agree with the opposition that international bureaucracy
is even more painful than our own bureaucracy. But the alternative to a
treaty if the fact that these companies probably can't mine anyway because
if we antagonize the rest of the world we cannot prevent what our own people
are doing. Take Greenpeace for example where young Americans are putting
their boats in the way of Russian whalers to try and save the whales, that's
out on the high seas and no country can prevent it. We had a group of
sailboats of people of down in Australia, excuse me, New Zealand, that
prevented a nuclear cruiser from going into Wellington Harbor merely by
sailing in front of it. We've had French people in boats prevent nuclear
tests in the test territories in the Pacific. There's no way that these
mining companies absent a treaty can expect that Fujians in canoes can't
stop their operations and it would be just as rightfully occupying the high
seas as the mining ships. They need a treaty if they're going to
You spoke a moment ago of wars that were started with
high seas conflict. How costly has that been would you imagine to the United
Well take Vietnam where we sent the Turner Joy
and the Maddox up against the coast of North Vietnam and the North
Vietnamese reacted and we used that as an excuse to authorize probably the
most tragic war in our history. The Vietnam War cost at least 150 billion
dollars the minimal profits that can be earned off these deep seabed
minerals are a minute fraction of what cost could be if we give up this
chance for settlement dispute.
Congressman, what is, what is your view of what common
heritage of mankind means?
Well, it's very simple. It's a turning away
from colonialism, it's a turning away from imperialism, it's a recognition
that the United States, which has grown wealthy for 200 years by cheap labor
and by cheap resources we are now saying to the Third World, "Wait a minute,
you ought to pay just as we have paid you. You ought to pay a fair price for
these resources." We don't like it very much but if we're going to have
peace in the world we are just as dependent on minerals and the friendship
and the cooperation and trade and commerce as on any other single thing. And
we benefit immensely if we can give up this concept that we have a right to
take all of these assets for our own use alone.
Thank you very much. Mr. Crampton, would you like
to cross examine the witness?
Congressman I wonder if I heard you correctly. I thought
I heard you say that the Law of the Sea Treaty is we had it, would be the
be-all and end-all of war -
Conflicts, disputes, and all sorts of conflagration
throughout the world would be solved by having a great Law of the Sea
Treaty. Do you think for example that this Greenpeace situation down in New
Zealand or Australia would actually be shut off because of a Law of the Sea
No, I think there are always going to be causes
for conflict in the world. But I point out that we went into the War of 1812
because of disagreement of pirateering rights, the War of 1898 the sinking
of the Maine. On the high seas have probably occurred more causes that have
led to war than any other single factor and if we can set up a dispute
settlement if we can agree to settle disputes by law instead of combat, we
achieve a great thing, I think this has been the magic of the U.S. system
But are there not -
to settle our disputes by court
Pardon me. But are there not existing bodies for dispute
settlement -the International Court of Justice and various arbitration
mechanisms when we're talking about foreign trade?
Yes, and quite honestly I think, Mr. Ely's
suggestion is a good one. I wish that the world court could settle this. But
we have led for 9 years now to set up this special new court for the oceans
and I think it has merit to continue for at least another year to try to get
Well of course we're going to try and get it. But let's
talk about some provisions of this treaty. I have a great deal of difficulty
talking about principles when again we're going to have to live by real
things and I'm sure you understand that.
I agree with you. Many of the provisions of the
existing text are unacceptable to me and certainly -
Would it be, I beg your pardon for interrupting, you're
a political animal as I am, do you think such a treaty would in fact be
ratified by the United States Senate, would it come up before it?
As it stands today, no. But the Senate will not
accept the treaty unless there is absolute guaranteed access to the U.S.
companies that is free if this incredibly complex mechanism that you
Correct. And what aspect of that particular treaty that
we have now would be unacceptable to the Senate, do you think?
Well there are 3 problems. The Senate doesn't
like the lack of guaranteed access. They don't like the idea that we may
have to swallow production controls because that clearly is a cartel
monopoly. We face the problem of that with OPEC. And we probably don't like
very much the transfer of technology but you know this is not a bad system
this two, two area proposal. The thought was Deep Sea Ventures with their
skill would present two equal tracts, like presenting a piece of cake and
saying, " You cut it first and then I get first choice." It's pretty well
assured that the two tracks will be equal. And I think it's a reasonable
To be fair to you what principles of international
controls, and the word Control has a big C on top of it, what principles
would you accept, a correct method to do this in?
If I felt that for the next 25 years and the 25
years after that when these needs really become more important, if I felt
that the United States had a guaranteed access to sufficient amounts of
these nodules to meet our own needs, and that could be guaranteed by treaty,
then I think this treaty and I think even they would agree that it is far
preferable to going out there and facing the hostility of the Third
Well it seems as if you agree with me then, that is if
the control, whenever the control passes from our hands then we shouldn't
have a treaty.
If we can retain our access, and if we can be treated
fairly within the context of whatever organization is set up then we should
Sure but the question of this debate is should
the U.S. agree to international control of deep sea mining and clearly
the answer is yes.
International Control, International Control with a big
Within reasonable limits.
That's what we're trying to
Let me ask you a question of what might come out of
international control. This question of production controls which would
clearly create artificial shortages of some of these minerals. Just what
kind of an impact do you suppose that that would have on the folks back in
your district in California?
Well it'll drive the price up for them but
worse it'll drive the price up for the Third World and I don't think you're
going to find the Third World wanting to drive up the price of basic
minerals. I find the Third World for example, railing against South Africa
but happily buying the food that South Africa produces because commercial
needs have outweighed principles.
That's correct, the Third World that is the group of 77,
to a nation is advocating production controls on these minerals. Now how do
you how do you deal with that inconsistency?
Production controls are controlled in the
United States by the anti-trust law. The only hope we have of an
international anti-trust law is to move toward international law here. If we
move toward international law then maybe we can control international
cartels. We certainly aren't controlling OPEC.
You mentioned international controls, suppose there were
a large petroleum reserves in the deep seabeds beyond the boundaries, the
There probably are.
Would you be in favor of investing control of those in
some international organization?
That's part of the treaty that beyond the
continental shelf at least we will have to surrender the right to go for
petroleum to an international system.
So you would favor the creation of some OPEC-like cartel
which might have the authority to control prices, to attach economic
objectives, political objectives.
No, I hate cartels, but there is no way today
under international law to control international cartels. The only way to
ever control is to build up a body of international law and this is the
first step this would be a priceless step on the road to finally control
Mr. Crampton may I borrow a bit of your time just
to ask the Congressman a question - just very quickly. You say we need a
treaty if we can get the right kind. Do you think the kind of treaty that
you think we ought to have that could be approved from the Senate could be
negotiated with the group of 77 which is now a 100 and something
Well there I'd have to admit to some pessimism,
because I've attended the last 4 years of these meetings and there is yet no
sign of the necessary breakthrough from the group of 77. I'm hopeful they
can achieve it, Ambassador Richardson's done a superb job but the, this
administration hasn't really assigned Republicans to jobs that are easily
done. And it may be, it may be that we can't achieve it but we owe the
Thank you, I was a little perplexed. I'm sorry Mr.
Crampton I've taken all of your time. We're going to have to go
Now wait a minute.
It's the prerogative of the chair. Congressman
McCloskey, thank you very much for joining us on The Advocates. Now let's go
to the closing arguments. Mr. Robinson you have one minute.
Thank you. Manhattan Island was reportedly sold by the
Indians for 26 dollars worth of beans. Certainly a monumental theft, but it
fails in comparison to what the rich and powerful mining companies want us
to do in exchange for their 200 million dollar investment in deep seabed
mining. They want us to sell out the entire world's birthright and
collective ownership of the untapped riches of the deep, worth a trillion
dollars in manganese nodules alone, some say and worth far more in the
unmeasureable terms of world peace, and helping to end world hunger and
plain decency. Let us not be stampeded by greed into taking what is not
rightfully ours. It may take another decade to settle this issue but 10 more
years of patience is precious little to pay for a livable world. Vote yes
and thank you.
Thank you. Mr. Crampton you have one minute and if
you speak fast maybe you can make up what I took away from you.
Thank you, how about a minute and a half. We have argued
tonight that at this moment there are no legal, economic, technological or
moral obstacles to undersea mining by the United States. Our right to mine
the sea does not require permission or approval of any international agency.
Now we have an important choice to make. Will Americans become a nation
which confesses its strength but is afraid to use it? Will we deal away our
hard won successful start in undersea mining in the name of misguided
internationalism? Or will we remember what made us great? Will we bring our
science, our industry and our best energies to bear on the problems that
need to be solved? Will we in fact have a hand in shaping our own destiny?
We must remember that we've been able to solve the prodigious problems of
undersea mining precisely because our system has worked so well. To give it
up now would shortchange future generations and the economic benefits and
future security that these minerals will bring. Because I believe that we
should be true to our history and to our values, because I believe that our
national experience is worth affirming and not denying I urge you to vote
against helplessness, against passivity and against retreat. Vote against
the undersea mining control bill. Thank you.
I'd like to remind you that The Advocates, as a
program, takes no position on the issue that we debate. Our job as we see it
is to bring you well-argued cases on both sides of all important questions
of public policy, so that you can better understand the issues involved. Now
we'd like to know what you in our audience think about tonight’s' question:
"Should the United States agree to international control of undersea
Send us you comments, and your vote, yes or no, on a
postcard to The Advocates, Box 1979, Boston, 02134. And I'd like to take a
moment to remind you of what's coming up on The Advocates in the next few
weeks. Next week, the question of juveniles and our courts. Should so-called
status offenders, that is truants, runaways and children designated as
incorrigible have their cases taken away from the jurisdiction of the
In the future weeks we'll debate the constitutional
amendment, balanced budget idea that's been getting so much attention
recently. We'll look at the Carnegie Commission's notion of a tax on
commercial television which would help pay for public television, and we’ll
debate statehood or independence for Puerto Rico.
And we hope you'll join us next week. Thank you Mr.
Robinson, Mr. Crampton and your distinguished witnesses and we'd like to
thank our hosts here at the Kennedy School of Government. Good night.