Ratification of UNCLOS won't change U.S. rights to inspect within its EEZ
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[MYTH]: As a nonparty, the United States is allowed to search any ship that enters our exclusive economic zone to determine whether it could harm the United States or pollute the marine environment. Under the Convention, the U.S. Coast Guard or others would not be able to search any ship until the United Nations is notified and approves the right to search the ship.18
This also is not correct. Under applicable treaty law—the 1958 conventions on the law of the sea—as well as customary international law, no nation has the right arbitrarily to search any ship that enters its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) to determine whether it could harm that nation or pollute its marine environment. Nor would the United States want countries to have such a blanket “right,” because it would fundamentally undermine freedom of navigation, which benefits the United States more than any other nation. Thus, the descriptions of both the status quo and the Convention’s provisions are incorrect. It makes no change in our existing ability or authority to search ships entering the American EEZ with regard to security or protection of the environment. One final and very important point is that under the Convention the UN has absolutely no role in U.S. military operations, including a decision as to when and where a foreign ship may be boarded.