U.S. freedom of navigation operations have been done in compliance with and in support of UNCLOS
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To further demonstrate its support for the Convention’s legal regime, a succession of US presidents over the past three decades have directed a multi-agency US Freedom of Navigation Program to preserve the nation’s rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace throughout the world. Of note, this US interest in freedom of navigation has included maintaining that freedom in the waters of East Asia, as demonstrated by a combination of public statements, diplomatic correspondence, and operational activities. Through the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, the US Department of State has diplomatically protested and the US Department of Defense has operationally challenged excessive maritime claims asserted by nations in East Asia that are inconsistent with the Convention. These US efforts to preserve the legal regime reflected in the Convention are transparently documented in the US Department of Defense’s Annual Freedom of Navigation Reports and its Maritime Claims Reference Manual, both of which are available to the public on the Internet.
At the same time, the United States has demonstrated support for the Convention’s legal regime through its actions as a coastal state, to include respecting all of the rights, freedom, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace exercised by other states. For example, when vessels and aircraft from foreign militaries, such as Russia20 and China,21 conduct military activities in and over the US exclusive economic zone, the United States has fully respected this “other internationally lawful use of the sea” by foreign militaries reflected in the Convention