Ratification of UNCLOS would bolster U.S. freedom of navigation rights in four ways
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Security. As the world’s foremost maritime power, our security interests are intrinsically linked to freedom of navigation. We have more to gain from legal certainty and public order in the world’s oceans than any other country. Our forces are deployed throughout the world, and we are engaged in combat operations in Central and Southwest Asia. The U.S. Armed Forces rely on the navigational rights and freedoms reflected in the Convention for worldwide access to get to the fight, sustain our forces during the fight, and return home safely, without permission from other countries.
In this regard, the Convention secures the rights we need for U.S. military ships and the commercial ships that support our forces to meet national security requirements in four ways:
- by limiting coastal States’ territorial seas -- within which they exercise the most sovereignty -- to 12 nautical miles;
- by affording our military and commercial vessels and aircraft necessary passage rights through other countries’ territorial seas and archipelagoes, as well as through straits used for international navigation (such as the critical right of submarines to transit submerged through such straits);
- by setting forth maximum navigational rights and freedoms for our vessels and aircraft in the exclusive economic zones of other countries and in the high seas; and
- by affirming the authority of U.S. warships and government ships to board stateless vessels on the high seas, which is a critically important element of maritime security operations, counter-narcotic operations, and anti-proliferation efforts, including the Proliferation Security Initiative.