China's flawed interpretation of UNCLOS freedom of navigation provisions, if left unchallenged, could begin to have the status of customary international law, setting a precedent for other nations, and ultimately have serious implications for the global norms that support security and stability at sea.
- Allowing China's interpretation of Law of the Sea to prevail could have drastic consequences on global maritime stability
- China's excessive claims are a threat to the global commons and China's own role
- China's excessive maritime claims are directly analogous to its emerging claims for vertical sovereignty in space, a trend the US must not leave unchallenged
- China's excessive claims run counter to its global economic ambitions and its own territorial defense strategy
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Despite the rhetoric, disputes over Arctic resources are unlikely to devolve into conflict as states have to date been operating in a cooperative manner and there are sufficient international forums and structures (including UNCLOS) in place to manage disputes if they should occur.
- U.S. sees low level of military threat from disputes in Arctic
- Existing security framework and economic incentives likely to defuse any conflict in the Arctic
- Despite rhetoric, existing governance and security framework in Arctic sufficient to prevent conflicts
- Despite rhetoric, Canada unlikely to resort to military action to protect Arctic claims
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Ratification of UNCLOS will neither sway China nor guarantee U.S. navigational rights in the South China Seas any more than continued U.S. naval presence through the Freedom of Navigation program.
- Maritime disputes with China won't be solved by legal wrangling but asserting rights through diplomacy and establishing a pattern of state practice
- Chinese aggressive claims in South China Seas motivated by three strategic goals
- China attempting to use UNCLOS to bind participants to its interpretation of military activities clause, U.S. should not play along
- U.S. Navy's freedom of operation in South China Sea could be more constrained after ratification of UNCLOS
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China is taking concrete diplomatic steps to ensure that it becomes a player in the Arctic game and eventually will have what it regards as its fair share of access to Arctic resources and sea routes.
- China's dependence on resources could force it to become more aggressive in its bid to gain access to Arctic resources
- China views coming resource struggle in Arctic as possibly leading to military conflict
- China actively lobbying for inclusion in the Arctic Council to gain access to Arctic resources
- China actively pursuing Arctic science and expanding relations with Arctic countries
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Currently, there is no major tension between the Arctic states. They all want peaceful solutions to their border disputes and see the advantages of freedom of navigation through the Northern Sea Route and the Northwest Passage. However, at the time when the coastal nations are able to increase their oil production in the Arctic, conflict can more easily occur. A shortage of energy and other resources will make the nations more determined to solve their border issues, which may increase the tension between them.
- Warming arctic is opening up new potential shipping lanes and resource extraction possibilities but increasing risks of conflict and tension over the same
- Nations are pursuing Arctic claims in emotional and nationalistic manner, heightening the risks of conflict
- No major tension between Arctic states but situation could change dramatically as race for resources heats up
- Disputes over arctic fishing resources have already lead to increased tensions between arctic nations
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The United States cannot currently participate in the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which oversees ocean delineation on the outer limits of the extended continental shelf (outer continental shelf). Even though it is collecting scientific evidence to support eventual claims off its Atlantic, Gulf, and Alaskan coasts, the United States, without becoming party to the convention, has no standing in the CLCS.
- Assertions of legal rights to arctic resources have dubious legal standing while us remains outside of UNCLOS
- US will have no capacity to challenge CLCS claims unless it is a full member of UNCLOS
- Seat on CLCS council valuable in that it allows US to take part in discussions and engage other participants
- By remaining outside of convention, US is unable to engage in disputes over Arctic claims within framework
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Even if U.S. had a seat on CLCS, they would have limited ability to influence the direction or decisions of the CLCS as members are required to act independently from their governments and in secrecy.
- Should not overstate the impact that US will be able to have with a full seat on CLCS
- CLCS process flawed by its secretive nature that prevents thorough examination of claims
- Members of CLCS are bound by agreement not to act as agent of their respective governments, undermining "seat at the table" argument
- By ratifying UNCLOS, U.S. could still be outvoted in CLCS decisions but then be obligated to abide by the ruling
U.S. next-generation military technology has become so dependent on a steady supply of rare earth metals that it could become a strategic disadvantage in any coming war with China. In addition, these metals have become valuable for advanced electronics and energy efficient "green" technologies.
- China maintains near monopoly on mining and production of rare earth elements and is controlling their production
- U.S. manufacturers dependent on foreign sources for rare earth metals because of its inability to mine deep seabed
- Rare earth metals are critical to development of new energy efficient technologies
- U.S. next-generation military technology is dependent on steady supply of rare-earth metals
- China currently holds a monopoly on the production of rare earth metals
- China's control over global rare earth metal supply could prove to be decisive in future conflict with U.S.
The ecosystem of the Arctic is more susceptible to pollution than other parts of the world which is even more critical because the Arctic region plays a key role in maintaining the health of the global environment.
- Dispute resolution mechanisms in UNCLOS threaten U.S. national security
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would subject U.S. military to rulings by third-party tribunals
- U.S. ability to conduct maritime interdiction operations would be curtailed by UNCLOS
- U.S. adherence to UNCLOS would jeopardize maritime intelligence gathering operations