Corporations reluctant to embark on development outside of UNCLOS because of the potential backlash
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The survey above suggests a variety of legal means through which the United States or a U.S.-licensed corporation might be challenged for operations on the seafloor outside the UNCLOS system. To date, such challenges are speculative; however, the variety of potential challengers and forums should lay bare the notion that the only thing corporations have to fear is fear itself.193
Corporate reluctance to proceed on the seafloor may also arise from the perception that a more immediate non-legal risk looms larger. The most threatening prospect for prospective seafloor operators today—other than a foreign navy or coast guard vessel arriving to forcibly eject them from an offshore site—may be the potential loss of reputation that would result from undertaking a “rogue” operation outside the UNCLOS regime.194 Companies with global operations and markets rely on political support from foreign governments, financial support from foreign investors, and market support from foreign consumers. Companies may be loath to jeopardize success abroad by taking action that might antagonize these pillars of a favorable business climate.195
States, corporate entities, and NGOs all have incentives to challenge unilateral claims by countries to resources outside the UNCLOS regime. Knowing this, U.S. corporations are reluctant to risk the liability involved in pursuing these claims, to the detriment of the U.S. economy.