UNCLOS has already proven itself as a powerful mechanism to bring rule of law to maritime realm
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Hans Morgenthau, an astute observer of international politics and founder of the modern school of political realism, dedicated his life to the study of the “struggle for power.” “All history shows,” he wrote in his classic treatise, “that nations active in international politics are continuously preparing for, actively involved in, or recovering from organized violence in the form of war.”123 The Convention serves as a powerful tool to shift maritime political dis- putes from being a cause for violence and naval warfare to a legal based order, approaching the vision of Myres S. McDougal and William T. Burke of a “public order of the oceans.”124 As the negotiations for the Convention were drawing to a close, Ambassador John Norton Moore understood that the United States was reaching its objective of replacing the “struggle for power” at sea with the “struggle for law” in the world’s oceans, reducing, and perhaps one day eliminating, an entire class of maritime conflicts as a cause of war.125 Toward that end, the Convention successfully has influenced numerous countries to conform their conduct and maritime claims to the Convention, typically in a manner that inures great benefit to global stability and security. These positive adjustments and reductions in excessive maritime claims constitute the “dogs that didn’t bark” in law of the sea. Over time, the individual and cumulative effect on U.S. national security and global interests has been positive.
One way to determine the extent to which UNCLOS’s navigational provisions have achieved the status of binding international law is to study the behavior of nations. The consistent practice of states—maritime states, coastal states, UNCLOS members, and nonmembers—indicates that the UNCLOS navigational provisions are almost universally accepted law.