U.S. needs to be party to UNCLOS to defend its rights within the CLCS
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The Continental Shelf: There is an extensive continental margin beyond 200 miles off the coast of Alaska and elsewhere off the coast of the United States. As a party to the Convention, we will be able to submit the results of our scientific studies regarding the seaward limits of the continental margin to the Commission of experts established by the Convention. Once we are satisfied with the outcome of our exchanges with the Commission, we can exercise the right to declare limits that are final and binding on all parties to the Convention. This will increase the certainty of our control and the willingness of private capital to make the substantial investment required to explore and exploit areas as deemed suitable for development.
Moreover, as a party to the Convention, we acquire the right to nominate and participate in the election of members of the Commission, as well as the right to comment on both the procedure and the substance of the Commission’s work. These rights are important because we have a major interest in influencing the review of continental margin claims around the world before they become final and binding, in order to ensure that reasonable claims are confirmed and made more secure, and that excessive claims do not limit our own access to the areas in question for economic, scientific, or other purposes. Mr. Chairman, the Canadian and Russian Governments have every right to seek to use the Commission to advance their interests. But Alaska is caught in the middle, and our capacity to protect our interests off Alaska and in the Arctic generally will be enhanced by getting on the inside and making sure our concerns are heeded.
The United States cannot currently participate in the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, which oversees ocean delineation on the outer limits of the extended continental shelf (outer continental shelf). Even though it is collecting scientific evidence to support eventual claims off its Atlantic, Gulf, and Alaskan coasts, the United States, without becoming party to the convention, has no standing in the CLCS.