U.S. cannot effectively engage in discussions on the future of the Arctic as a non-party to UNCLOS
[ Page 11 ]
The United States must ratify UNCLOS as soon as possible. It is the entrance fee to sit at the table and discuss international law in the Arctic. With 156 other nations belonging to UNCLOS, the absence of the United States signals to the world that it intends to be a unilateral actor.60 Moreover, it also decreases the strength of international law in the region. Given that international law is the only constraint to massive power projection and militarization in the region, continuing to be a signatory without ratification is detrimental to regional security. In addition, there is considerable evidence showing that the continental shelf off the Alaskan coastline extends well beyond the 200 nautical mile EEZ limit.61 It is estimated that United States could claim an extra 291,000 square miles.62 This extra seabed could yield approximately 27 billion barrels of oil.63 As a party to UNCLOS, the United States would be able to formally submit its claim to the CLCS and have this continental shelf extension to the EEZ internationally recognized.