Offshore operations are capital-intensive, requiring significant financing and insurance. Oil and natural gas companies do not want to undertake these massive expenditures if their lease sites may be subject to territorial dispute. They operate transnationally, and need to know that the title to the petroleum resources will be respected worldwide and not just in the United States.
- Oil, gas, and mining interests have made it clear that they won't operate without legal protection from UNCLOS
- Oil and gas companies not willing to undertake extensive capital investments required to develop offshore without legal stability provided by UNCLOS
- Oil and gas industry unwilling to rely solely on rights outlined in 1958 convention
- U.S. failure to ratify UNCLOS will leave U.S. commercial mining and energy interests without legal protection
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Even though U.S. has not ratified UNCLOS, it still has committed itself to abiding by its principles in two ways: through numerous policy statements and laws drafted in accordance with UNCLOS and committing the U.S. to abiding by it; and due to the fact that the Law of the Sea has become customary international law.
- Even without ratification, UNCLOS has already achieved binding customary international law status in the US
- U.S. has committed to abiding by UNCLOS framework in the Arctic both formally and informally
- Despite U.S. non-party status to UNCLOS, all three branches of government have already accepted it as law of the land
- US already acts according to the convention without accruing its benefits -- it is time for US to resume leadership role
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Opponents argue that UNCLOS's provisions calling for states to reduce pollution through "best practicable means" could be used as a "backdoor" to force environmental treaties on the U.S. However, legal scholars and State Department officials have concluded that the convention only binds the United States to act in accordance with its own laws or appropriately ratified international agreements and cannot be used as a “back door” to compel enforcement of international agreements the Senate has not ratified.
- State Department legal team analyzed Law of the Sea treaty and found there was nothing in treaty that would force U.S. policy on climate change
- UNCLOS will be utilized as basis for environmental laws and claims regardless of whether US is a party but US can only guide it if accedes to the treaty
- Convention will not act as a backdoor for other environmental agreements Senate has not ratified
- U.S. environmental standards already meet or exceed those set by UNCLOS
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By ratifying UNCLOS, the U.S. would be exposed to climate change lawsuits and other environmental actions brought against it by other members of the convention and the economic and political ramifications of such lawsuits could be dire.
- US accession to UNCLOS would uniquely expose it to baseless climate change lawsuits
- Climate change activists looking forward to having venue of ITLOS tribunal to bring climate change suits against US
- UNCLOS unique from other environmental agreements in the scale of the external judicial review it imposes
- Environmentalists anxious to use UNCLOS to sue U.S. government over environmental damage
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Since UNCLOS is the basis of modern international law of the sea, the U.S. should ratify the Convention in order to more effectively exercise, maintain, and perpetuate its leadership and to strengthen the normative framework that UNCLOS provides.
- UNCLOS has proven itself as valuable global framework for resolving maritime conflicts
- UNCLOS is a remarkable peacetime achievement in resolving border disputes without conflict
- U.S. can best leverage norming effect of international law by ratifying UNCLOS
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will help U.S. resolve 30-40 existing boundary disputes
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- Applying UNCLOS model to outer space would stifle nascent commercial space industry
- Ratification of UNCLOS establishes flawed precedent for development of frontier that would carry over into space
- UNCLOS model could be extended to cyberspace with devastating economic impact
- Should reject UNCLOS before its model spreads to other commons including outer space and the internet
- UNCLOS model could be extended into outer space to the detriment of U.S. freedom of action
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will validate model for international governance of all global commons with adverse consequences for its military space program
Under the convention, the United States assumes a number of obligations at odds with its military practices and national security interests, including a commitment not to collect intelligence. The U.S. would sign away its ability to collect intelligence vital for American security within the “territorial waters” of any other country (Article 19). Further- more, U.S. submarines would be required to travel on the surface and show their flags while sailing within territorial waters (Article 20).
- UNCLOS would complicate intelligence operations by facilitating seizure of U.S. assets
- Impossible for proponents of UNCLOS to have high confidence that UNCLOS won't restrict US intelligence operations
- U.S. participation in UNCLOS would undermine military and intelligence operations
- Article 19 or the "Pueblo clause" would devastate U.S. intelligence operations
- Article 20 provisions will negative impact ability of military to use underwater drones
UNCLOS represents the consensus of decades of debate on how best to govern shared ocean resources and to handle disputes over border conflicts. The Arctic nations have settled on UNCLOS, adopting it in their laws and subsequent agreements, and it forms the basis for governance of the Arctic region.
- Antarctica treaty is poor alternative to UNCLOS for resolving Arctic disputes because it was based on environmental protection, not resource exploitation
- Abandoning UNCLOS in Arctic would undermine all principles UNCLOS is based-on, encouraging non-diplomatic solutions to territorial disputes
- Law of the sea is an ideal framework for arctic governance
- U.S. needs to ratify UNCLOS to establish shared law in the Arctic to avoid conflict
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U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will have a positive effect on the environment as the conservation of ocean wildlife, the protection of delicate marine ecosystems, and the control of marine pollution are by their very nature multilateral issues. U.S. ratification will demonstrate U.S. commitment to address these problems in a cooperative manner at a time when some view U.S. policy as generally antithetical to multilateral arrangements. The environmental community strongly favors UNCLOS and U.S. ratification would send a message of support
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would boost its international environmental leadership and support multilateral environmental cooperation
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will go a long way towards promoting international protection of the environment
- U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would boost U.S. leadership on protecting maritime environment in multiple ways
- UNCLOS greatly improves international protections for marine biodiversity
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By relying on the Convention and the doctrine of the high seas, the United States may bypass the UNCLOS regime altogether and begin exploration and exploitation of the Arctic area immediately.
- U.S. should assert its rights under the Convention of the High Seas to mine and develop in the Arctic, independent of UNCLOS
- US not out of running in race for Arctic resources, it can still submit claim if it ratifies UNCLOS
- U.S. scuttling of Russia's initial Arctic claim shows it can still influence CLCS as a non member
- U.S. participation in Ilulissat agreement undermines claim that its non-party status to UNCLOS is hurting its ability to guide Arctic policy
- Multiple steps U.S. can take to enhance security in Arctic that do not involve ratifying UNCLOS