Most coastal states have already adapted their maritime law to bring it into compliance with UNCLOS
[ Page 568 ]
Other states have also recognized the Convention’s positive legal force—most recently Japan, India, and Mexico at the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee (Legal).135 Those nations credited the Convention with operating as a fundamental document for advancing the “rule of law” throughout the world. Most coastal states, in fact, have adjusted their maritime claims to be in conformity with the Convention. For example, 144 States claim a terri- torial sea of 12 nm or less, in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention.136 Throughout the globe, many countries have areas within their law or state practice that are noncompliant, but “state practice complies largely” with the Law of the Sea as reflected in the Convention.137 Even in these instances, however, diplomacy operates within the context of the rules reflected in the Convention.
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.