U.S. likely to be forced to ratify UNCLOS at some point due to the inevitable negative consequences of non-accession
The fact that these concerns have been allowed to sideline the treaty for ten years is a bad sign for U.S. foreign policy in an age of terrorism. If we cannot get beyond political paralysis in a case where the coalition of American supporters is so comprehensive, there is little reason to think that any multi-lateral solution to any international problem is likely to be accepted within the U.S. policy-making structure.
Eventually, however, I believe that the United States will become a party to the Convention because events will transpire that will brightly illuminate the costs of not ratifying it. At some point, a foreign nation will seek rule changes to the treaty that restrict passage by U.S. Navy vessels. At some point, our oil and mining industries will want to prospect beyond the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone. They won't do that without the international legal certainty provided by the Law of the Sea that their claims and investments will be respected by other nations. At some point, Russia or some other country will succeed in having excessive ocean claims recognized because we are not there to stop them.
My message today is that it is irresponsible for us to wait to ratify the Law of the Sea until we feel the negative consequences of our absence from the Convention. The Senate should ratify the Law of the Sea Convention now in the interest of U.S. national security, the U.S. economy, and the American people.