U.S. should formally accept UNCLOS treaty to fully take advantage of its benefits and regain its leadership role
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Currently, as a non-party, the United States is not bound by the various provisions of the UNCLOS. At the same time, it also constrains the US to take full advantage of the many benefits it offers and to avoid the increasing costs of being a non-party. In contemporary world, it is implausible and unwise to think that the US can rely on military power alone to enforce its rights, particularly economic rights. Further, US certainly cannot have much influence over development of the law of the sea, stimulated by recent Arctic climate changes, by remaining outside the Convention. The evolving ocean order may be detrimental to the US national interests. By not acceding to the UNCLOS, the US is forgoing an opportunity to extend its sovereign rights over adjoining continental shelf, while simultaneously abdicating an opportunity to play a significant role in formal deliberations in the UNCLOS institutions. These shortcomings are further excerabated by the observed and potentail impacts of climate change in the Arctic region.
In this context, if we consider securing national interests as an outcome of the diplomatic bargain through inter-governmental negotiations concerning a particular ocean issue, then formal participation in the Convention processes is necessary for the US to remain at the helm of the ocean diplomacy in the contemporary world. Hence, it is imperative for the US to accede to the LOS convention, as it is a critical step toward advancing its national interests to ensure economic and strategic interests in ocean space. Imperatives of contemporary developments have given fresh impetus in the US in the direction of ratification of the LOS Convention. This section examines the factors and contemporary developments which have triggered the efforts to get consent of the US Senate to ratify LOS Convention.
As the pre-eminent global maritime power, the U.S. has significant interests in the global effect of the Convention’s rules and their interpretation with many issues that of greater concern to us than to most other countries (for example, preserving freedom of navigation rights). Our adversaries view this as a weakness they can exploit and are shaping the course of the convention in ways adverse to U.S. interests while the U.S. remains on the sidelines, unable to participate in the discussion as a non-party.