U.S. Homeland security officials favor UNCLOS ratification because it furthers rule of law and facilitates coastal law enforcement
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From the homeland security perspective, “public order of the oceans is best established and maintained by a stable, universally accepted law of the sea treaty reflective of U.S. national interest.”62 This testimony also alluded to the importance of being part of a global law-of-the-sea rule-making process. The Convention’s navigation freedoms and protections, noted the Department of Homeland Security’s representative, “allow the use of the world’s oceans to meet changing national security requirements,” suggesting that a non–state party would be at a disadvantage in fashioning what might be considered new ocean-borne security efforts.63
Another significant benefit in becoming a state party to the Treaty, noted the Homeland Security Department, would be the enhanced “ability to conduct interdiction operations and to refute excessive maritime claims.”64 Some U.S. efforts in the past had been questioned by states contending that certain treaty-based rights were not reflections of customary law. The Department also cited Convention Article 108 (requiring interna- tional cooperation in the suppression of illegal drugs) as a means by which the United States could hasten the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic In Narcotic Drugs and Psychotic Substances.65 Finally, the Department support for accession highlighted the wide-ranging responsibilities charged to one of its core functional components, the United States Coast Guard. Accession, noted the statement, would augment the Coast Guard’s ability to prevent, reduce, and control maritime pollution; purge U.S. waters of substandard ships; and preserve high seas fisheries.66
U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would bolster homeland security efforts in two significant ways. First, it would provide a stable legal basis for U.S. freedom of navigation rights, preserving the right of the U.S. military to use the world’s oceans to meet national security requirements. Secondly, it would provide stronger legal basis for the U.S. to conduct necessary counter-terrorism interdiction operations and challenge excessive claims.