Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

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Resolved: The United States should accede to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea without reservations.

I don’t understand why this topic was chosen. It’s like 20 years out of date. Gotta do what you gotta do I guess. Let’s get to it.

Definitions

I’m going to forego the specific definitions for this one, because they’re pretty obvious, and talk more about the history of the Law of the Sea. Historically, a nation’s territory in the sea extended 3 nautical miles outside it’s national land borders. In the 80s and 90s, however, that needed to be changed. Nations had unilaterally extended their territories to claim fishing and mineral rights, among other military rights. The original guidelines were not clear or comprehensive enough. So UNCLOS (the international UN body responsible for sea things) met and ratified the Law of the Sea. Notably, the U.S. did not ratify because the measure did not pass the Senate. Objections included national security concerns and concerns about the law’s formation for a new committee that would process claims to resources on the deep sea bed. So the question before us now is whether or not the U.S. should ratify this international law.

In order to establish and appropriate framework for your case, you must first determine how we determine what the United States government should do.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Globalization – Globalization is a positive force for all nations, and the U.S., as a leading economic power, should promote policies that promote globalization. The Law of the Seas is on such policy. It will help regulate international commerce, allow the U.S. military increased naval access, and allow recourse for other nations overstepping their bounds.

2. Economics – Without ratifying, the U.S. doesn’t have a voice in UNCLOS, which makes international maritime commerce more challenging. For example, U.S. telecom companies that need to lay cable in the ocean need to find foreign governments to advocate on their behalf in UNCLOS. That’s a pain and makes for a challenging economic climate for U.S. companies.

3. National Security – With a voting seat on the body, the U.S. could have significant influence over naval military policy. Additionally, the Law of the Seas allows for clearer definitions of international waters and reduces the potential for conflict in those waters.

Con

1. Anti-globalization – The notion of an international government is in itself bad. It places limits on national sovereignty that should not be there and does not allow for future flexibility. The U.S. should not participate.

2. Discrimination against U.S. – UNCLOS creates tremendous opportunity for discrimination against the U.S. when it comes to deep sea resources rights. It also lends legitimacy to any nations that want recourse against the U.S. for expanding its international waters influence.

That’s it for now, good luck!

Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfer of ownership.

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Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfer of ownership.

I was excited after reviewing the LD topic, but this one is unfortunately a disappointment. It’s heavily weighted toward the pro, and evidence against universal background checks is going to be difficult to find. But, let’s see what we can do.

Definitions

United States – In this case, this refers to the U.S. government. The point of this is a) to restrict the debate within the borders of the U.S. and b) to indicate that this requirement would be enacted federally.

Require – Don’t make this more than it is. How does the government require anything? By punishing you for not doing yet, or not allowing you to get what you want. To avoid a stupid debate, you can reasonably assume that the resolution is saying a person will need to pass a universal background check before being allowed to purchase or acquire a firearm.

Universal background check – A universal background check is a check that goes through the NICS system. Basically, the FBI maintains a database of people it has deemed ineligible to purchase firearms and explosives. The background check references a potential buyer against that database to determine if they’re allowed to buy a firearm or not. Currently, only licensed firearm dealers are required to perform such a background check. The resolution is asking if this should be extended to all transactions.

Should – This is the most important word in the resolution. Your framework has to explain how we determine what a government, particularly the U.S. government, should do. Then, you have to extend that to explain why that means the U.S. should require universal background checks.

Case Positions

Pro

1. Security – A government’s primary responsibility is to the security of its own people. Some would even argue that is a government’s only responsibility. Experts generally agree that universal background checks will reduce gun violence and improve overall safety. It’s clear that these background checks should be required to improve the overall safety of the U.S. population.

2. Consent of the People – Governments, particularly democratic ones like the United States, determine their actions through the will of the people. Their is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that the American people favor universal background checks for all firearm transactions.

Con

1. Second Amendment – Such background checks would be too severe of a hindrance to peoples’ right to own firearms. The FBI registry regularly returns false positives and would prevent too many people form freely exercising their rights. It can also be argued that such a requirement is beyond the government’s rights. The Libertarian position would contend that enacting such restrictions stretches the government’s regulatory powers too far.

2. Impossibility of Implementation – This is more of a kritik type position, but one could argue that the solution proposed in the resolution is impossible to implement in the United Sates. It is just not feasible for the government to regulate all gun transactions that occur within U.S. borders, and if something is impossible to do, it should not be done.

That’s it; I hope that helps get you started. Feel free to post questions and comments below, and visit the Academy if you’re interested in personal private coaching!