May 19, 1999
The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 883 because the bill would unduly restrict the nomination of lands for designation under the World Heritage Convention, the Biosphere Reserve Program, and other international conservation agreements such as the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. If H.R. 883 is presented to the President, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of State will recommend that he veto the bill.
H.R. 883 would prohibit federal officials from nominating sites under existing international conservation agreements without congressional authorization for each site. Local communities, in practice, initiate the nomination process; this congressional restriction could frustrate these attempts at local and global environmental cooperation, deprive these communities of significant economic benefits of international recognition, and jeopardize American participation in international scientific cooperative efforts.
The bill purportedly responds to the perception that international conservation agreements and programs infringe upon the national sovereignty of the United States, mandate land-use regimes, restrict private landowner rights, and exclude Congress or the public from the nomination and designation processes. On the contrary, these agreements:
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