U.S. non-party status to UNCLOS is far more a financial liability than its accession would be
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Every financial concern raised against UNCLOS has been expressly rebuked by US industry; in fact, nearly every major US business possessing maritime interests has publicly and unequivocally supported US accession to the Convention.101 For example, the American Petroleum Institute (API) has repeatedly asserted that its members will not risk investing the billions of dollars required to drill in the US ECS without the legal certainty UNCLOS offers.102 Consequently, as long as the US remains outside the UNCLOS framework, it cannot receive any of the royalties it would otherwise be entitled to from the petroleum industry were ECS drilling to commence. As one UNCLOS proponent expressed, “it’s better to have 93% of something, than 100% of nothing.”103 Therefore, as it stands today, it would be more accurate to characterize UNCLOS, as it relates to the costs to comply, as a squandered source of revenue, as opposed to a financial liability.
Opponents of UNCLOS often point to the royalty payments required under Article 82 of the convention as a reason to reject ratifcation. However, on closer examination many of the criticisms of the revenue sharing agreeements do not hold up. The actual amount the U.S. would have to pay pales in comparison to the revenues that would be generated, a significant reason why industry represenatives have consistently been in favor of UNCLOS. Additionally, the concern that royalty payments would go towards anti-U.S. states and non-state actors could be mitigated if the U.S.