U.S. should ratify UNCLOS to be able to better protect underseas cables industry from encroachment
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Given their importance to global networks and the world economy, there must be an appropriate legal framework based upon global cooperation and the rule of law to protect submarine cables. The Convention provides this necessary framework in 10 provisions applicable to submarine cables, going beyond existing international law to provide a comprehensive international legal regime for submarine cables wherever they are – whether in territorial seas, in Exclusive Economic Zones (or “EEZ”), on continental shelves, or on the high seas. Once the Convention is ratified, the United States government will be able to insist on compliance by other nations with these protections. Several recent events underscore the urgent need for a clear and unambiguous framework for protecting this vital communications infrastructure.
First, some nations have attempted to encroach on the ability of U.S. operators to participate effectively in the deployment, maintenance and repair of undersea cables. To oppose these types of foreign encroachments or restrictions effectively, the U.S. must have a seat at the table where it can enforce the Convention’s freedoms to lay, maintain, and repair undersea cables.
Currently the vital U.S. underseas cable industry has to rely on the outdated 1884 telegraph treaty for its legal basis when defending its rights to lay, maintain, and repair underseas cables. U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would better protect U.S. companies’ existing cable systems and foster additional investments by giving telecommunications the legal certainty to their claims that they need.