08 Aug 2007 Maybe Bill Nelson Should Resign
From husband David:
Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has said he plans to convene a hearing to look into why Everglades National Park was taken off the United Nations’ “List of World Heritage in Danger.”But why bother? The Senator has already made up his mind on the subject: He blames Deputy Secretary of Interior Todd Willens for convincing the World Heritage Committee to remove the Everglades from the list and has called for Willens to be fired.
“The U.N. should have been presented with the position of our agency experts,” said Nelson. “This action is absolutely unacceptable and, I believe, warrants Willens’ removal.”
What Nelson is suggesting here is that the call be made by unelected bureaucrats rather than by people duly appointed by the President. This runs counter not only to the concept of accountable government, but counter to the convention under which the list was created.
Article 11 of the “Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage” specifies that inclusion of a site on the “List of World Heritage in Danger” requires the “consent of the state concerned.” Such consent power is held by the President, not by people ensconced in the bureaucracy who do not change from one administration to the next.
Continued listing of the Everglades is an embarrassment to the United States because it says that the United States needs international technical and financial assistance to protect the Everglades. Such listings are normally only welcomed by developing nations, which lack the wherewithal to restore such heritage sites.
The suggestion that Willens be dismissed because he believes the United States can handle its own environmental challenges is excessive, to say the least.
From Nelson’s reaction, you’d think Willens had suggested that authority over our lands be transferred from accountable American officials to unaccountable international bureaucrats.
Oh, wait – That’s what Senator Nelson has called for.
Perhaps someone else should be removed from his position.
To contact author David Ridenour directly, write him at [email protected]
Note from Amy: For those who don’t know, the designation of “endangered” by the U.N. World Heritage Program bestows no benefit upon the Everglades. The designation exists to create publicity for a handful of endangered sites worldwide for the purpose of attracting capital to sites located in countries undergoing upheaval and to poor countries. Inasmuch as the United States has a stable (if frustrating) government, does not receive foreign aid, and its Everglades programs are not dependent upon nor expecting capital from abroad, the main practical impact of a de-listing is to give U.N. officials one less excuse to junket to Florida (about 22 percent of the cost of which would ultimately be billed to U.S. taxpayers). The de-listing also allows, as Todd Willens noted in the AP article, and David referred to above, for more attention to be given to endangered sites located in nations that cannot or will not care for them. The Everglades does not require publicity.
An open question for Senator Nelson: What do you expect the United Nations to do for America that America cannot do for itself?
For more information about World Heritage areas, I recommend various National Center for Public Policy Research publications on this subject, including World Heritage Areas: A Critical Analysis, by Ryan Balis, This Land is My Land: How United Nations Claims of World Heritage May Swipe America’s Past, by Ryan Balis, Keep the Statue of Liberty Free: An Argument for Congressional Oversight of U.N. Land Designations in the U.S., by Amy Ridenour, 1972 Treaty Grants the United Nations Control Over American Historical Landmarks, by Melissa Wiedbrauk, United Nations Gaining Control Over American Historical Landmarks, by John Carlisle and Americans Losing Control of U.S. Treasures to United Nations, by Elizabeth McGeehan, among others.
In looking through our files on the subject I was reminded that The National Center, in conjunction with the Committee For a Constructive Tomorrow, in 2000 bestowed an award on then-Congressman Helen Chenoweth-Hage for her work on the American Land Sovereignty Protection Act, legislation that would have required the approval of the U.S. Congress before any U.S. landmark was listed as a United Nations World Heritage Site. Rep. Chenoweth-Hage was Senator Nelson’s opposite: Senator Nelson apparently not only believes U.S. sites should be listed by the United Nations without the approval of the U.S. Congress, but he believes Congress should “investigate” if sites listed without Congressional approval are removed from United Nations supervision.
One wonders, as David asks above, why Senator Nelson serves in our government, if he believes we need to be supervised by the United Nations. He might better suited for a perk-laden post at Turtle Bay. Let’s hope he considers it.