UNCLOS Needed for America's Security
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PSI is explicitly based on, and requires partner nations to act consistently with, national legal authorities and relevant international law frameworks."* That is the heart of PSI. It allows us to bring together a whole host of partners, authorities, and jurisdictions to work cooperatively. Virtually all of our partners in PSI are parties to the Law of the Sea Convention. Clearly, they see no conflict.
Far from impeding PSI, if we accede to the Law of the Sea Convention, it will help our PSI efforts. It will remove the invalid, incorrect, bogus argument that PSI is a renegade regime that flies in the face of international law." The result, if we accede, is that there will be more partners, more intelligence, and more preemptive actions that will help to protect us from serious and significant threats.
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As we come closer to the time when amendments to the Convention are contemplated, it is absolutely essential that we have a voice in that process. One of the basic principles I try to engrain in my officers is the idea that in any negotiation, the first person to get his ideas down in writing or, as we say, the first person to get the chalkboard, has a tremendous advantage. One forces others to work from one's own text and ideas. It is important to set the baseline and make others fight away from it. Well, I can say that I do not know how we can be first to the chalkboard if we do not even have a seat at the debate when these amendments come up, if they come up. In our current status as a nonparty, we will not be in the room. We will not have a seat, much less a voice.
Even decades ago, I do not think that this would have been an acceptable position for the United States, given our historic reliance on global and maritime commerce. Today, it is completely unacceptable. Ostriches, as they say, may bury their heads in the sand, but they are on land; they are not dependent upon water in a global maritime regime. On the other hand, if we try to bury our head and go it alone in our modern global maritime climate, we will drown.
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We will stabilize the outer permissible limit of the territorial sea of other nations at 12 nautical miles." We will gain the leverage to combat effectively excessive territorial sea claims and other excessive claims. At present, there are over a hundred excessive claims throughout the world.' These are notjust rogue states making these claims. Many, including those pertaining to the continental shelf, are from friendly nations or nations with whom we need principled, cooperative relationships. Our status as a nonparty to the Law of the Sea Convention hobbles our efforts to address these claims in an effective manner.
Specifically, I point out the counternarcotics area. There are excessive territorial sea claims that cause significant operational impediments for us on a daily basis. Our status as a nonparty makes it difficult for us to achieve effective operational agreements with those nations that have claims of territorial seas of up to two hundred nautical miles.