Article 19 of UNCLOS will not impact U.S. intelligence operations
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The 2002 National Security Strategy states that the United States' success in the Global War on Terrorism depends on the destruction and disruption of terrorist organizations by "Identify[ing] and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders."69 Clearly, the United States' ability to conduct intelligence activities effectively is crucial to the prevention of future terrorist activities.70 Thus, Article 19 of UNCLOS, which appears to have ramifications for intelligence activity is highly significant.71
The impact of UNCLOS on intelligence gathering activities hinges on the interpretation of Article 19(2)(c), namely what constitutes innocent passage through coastal states' territorial waters.72 According to proponents of UNCLOS, the Convention will not significantly impact the United States' intelligence gathering activities.73 Proponents will admit that intelligence gathering does not qualify for an innocent activity under Article 19(2)(c) and therefore does not entitle the vessel conducting intelligence activities to the benefits of innocent passage.74 But they note that intelligence activities are not specifically prohibited or regulated by the Convention.75
"National Security Implications in the Global War on Terrorism of the United States Accession to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
." Dartmouth Law Journal
. Vol. 7, No. 2 (2009): 117-131. [ More (9 quotes) ]
Opponents of U.S. ratification of UNCLOS have argued that U.S. intelligence operations will be complicated by UNCLOS because it will prevent U.S. submarines from gathering intelligence in territorial waters. However, these operations are already regulated by the existing 1958 convention which the U.S. ratified and expects other nations to abide by. Furthermore, the intelligence community has reviewed the treaty and concluded that it was still in U.S. interests to ratify the treaty.