As most prominent advocate of UNCLOS during negotiations, US has lost significant political capital by remaining outside the treaty
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The immediate effect of our failure to sign the Convention was a loss of political capital. Had we been only a peripheral player in the UNCLOS process, or had we objected earlier and more vigorously to certain proposals, our refusal to sign would not have been so conspicuous. Unfortunately, our 25 years of active participation in the process, and our mild objections to the initial deep seabed mining provisions, gave the community of nations every reason to believe we were going to sign and support the Treaty. Our refusal to sign at the end of the process was viewed as a capricious policy reversal, resulting in significant political cost.
This situation was exacerbated by the 1983 Reagan Proclamation, which appeared to the international community as an attempt to mold the Treaty for our own use. We lost significant political credibility with our decision not to sign the Treaty and touched off a further torrent of criticism in the wake of the Presidential statement. Some of the international community refused to accept the U.S. contention that the non-seabed provisions of the Treaty reflected customary law and therefore were applicable to all states, whether or not they were parties to it. As one of the most influential UNCLOS negotiators expressed it: “The provisions of the Convention are closely interrelated and form an integral package. Thus, it is not possible for a state to pick what it likes￼and disregard what it does not like.”10 ￼
"United States Convention on the Law of the Sea: Time for a U.S. Reevaluation?
." Naval Law Review
. Vol. 40. (1992): 229-239. [ More (2 quotes) ]
U.S. failure to ratify UNCLOS has damaged U.S. national security and economic growth by forclosing valuable opportunities, increasing the costs for military operations, and crippling U.S. maritime leadership as our adversaries become more aggressive.