Obama administration continues to recognize the importance of ratifying UNCLOS to resolve boundary disputes
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While the United States has a significant amount of ECS in the Arctic, as a non-party to the Law of the Sea Convention, the U.S. is at a significant disadvantage relative to the other Arctic Ocean coastal States. Those States are parties to the Convention, and are well along the path to obtaining legal certainty and international recognition of their Arctic ECS.
Becoming a Party to the Law of the Sea Convention would allow the United States to fully secure its rights to the continental shelf off the coast of Alaska, which is likely to extend out to more than 600 nm. However, only as a Party would we put our rights on the firmest legal footing and have access to the Convention’s procedure that would maximize legal certainty and international recognition of the U.S. continental shelf that extends beyond 200 nm. U.S. accession is a matter of geostrategic importance in the Arctic (where all other Arctic nations, including Russia, are Parties and can fully secure their continental shelf rights). The Administration remains committed to acceding to the LOS Convention as a high priority.