U.S. Navy's freedom of navigation is continually challenged by excessive claims
U.S. Naval forces are continually challenged by more than 100 illegal, excessive claims around the globe that adversely affect vital navigational and over-flight rights and freedoms. Accession to UNCLOS would give the U.S. Navy more tools to help rollback these violations.
[ Page 775 ]
U.S. navigation on the high seas is affected by its non-ratification of UNCLOS III. For example, if a U.S. naval task force had to rush from the Persian Gulf to a crisis along the North Korean peninsula, it could be forced to detour 3,000 miles around Indonesia.234 Another example is the barring of U.S. tankers from the Strait of Hormuz-the strait in which most American foreign oil is shipped-by Iran.235 Finally, Russia could institute fishing trawlers off the coast of Alaska that would take millions of tons of salmon found in American waters.236 None of these things would be possible if the United States ratifies UNCLOS III. UNCLOS III may aid the United States in ensuring that the naval ships and submarines can navigate freely along the high seas, that cargo ships and tankers may navigate along the world's sea lanes, and that the United States retains control over the resources found in the deep sea.237 As long as the United States remains a nonparty, it will not be able to rely on the protections provided by UNCLOS III.
[ Page 3 ]
The US is, of course, the world's sole superpower and its pre-eminent maritime power. Accordingly, the US clearly plays a leading role in global affairs. The US also perceives itself to be a world leader and is keen to project and promote this image and reality. The fact that the US is not a party to the Convention undermines that leadership role in the maritime sphere. Critically, when the United States comments on maritime issues of concern to it, such as regarding excessive maritime claims through the FON program or on the South China Sea disputes for instance, a frequently raised objection to Washington's interventions is that the US has not signed up to UNCLOS. This serves to compromise the credibility and authority of the US in global ocean affairs. US accession would therefore remove a somewhat irrelevant, but far from unimportant barrier to the United States playing a strong leadership role as the contemporary law of the sea. The counterpoint here is that by choosing not to participate the US is abdicating or at least undermining its credential to a leadership role in international ocean affairs. The rationale for ratification on this front alone is therefore, it is submitted, persuasive.
"Time for the United States to Join the Party? Prospects for US Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
." International Zeitschrift
. Vol. 8, No. 3 (December 2012): 1-6. [ More (4 quotes) ]