U.S. ratification of UNCLOS can be justified on military, commercial, and environmental grounds
The case for U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty is straightforward:
The treaty protects our national security. By improving access and transit rights for our ships, aircraft and submarines, the Law of the Sea treaty facilitates timely movement of U.S. forces throughout the world. Adm. Clark and all living former chiefs of naval operations have endorsed the treaty. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote last month the treaty "remains a top national security priority."
The treaty protects our commercial interests. Provisions on coastal state control of the continental shelf, for example, help provide the certainty crucial to capital-intensive deepwater projects. The American Petroleum Institute, the International Association of Drilling Contractors and the National Ocean Industries Association have all called for treaty approval.
The treaty protects the ocean environment. Provisions addressing marine pollution and fisheries help promote conservation of scarce marine resources. The World Wildlife Fund, National Environmental Trust and Oceans Conservancy, among others, support the agreement.
These factors have led the Bush administration not only to support the Law of the Sea treaty, but to identify it as one of only five treaties for which Senate approval is "urgent." Officials from the Navy, Coast Guard, Office of the Secretary of Defense, State Department and Commerce Department have all testified in support of ratification.
There is a strong economic, military, and strategic case to be made for U.S. ratification of UNCLOS. Economically, the U.S. would benefit by attaining new protections for its vital maritime industries while opening up new industries and vast amounts of terroritory. The military case is just as strong with the overwhelming consensus of military leaders advocating for ratification as a way to ensure the freedom of navigation rights the U.S. depends on. Finally, ratification of UNCLOS would help the U.S.