US failure to ratify UNCLOS is impeding the international cooperation necessary to address multinational threats like terrorism
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The events of the past quarter-century, and particularly the world-changing tragedies of September 2001, have made it more imperative than ever that the United States accept this convention. As the United States seeks a higher level of international cooperation in executing the fight against terror- ism, and as the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard look to enhanced levels of global maritime cooperation to safeguard critical interests held in common, the failure of the United States to become a party to the Convention is impeding U.S. strategies and programs. Indeed, the Navy and Coast Guard have taken leadership roles in advocating adoption. ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼
If the United States has learned anything since 9/11, it is the importance of international cooperation and of having coalition partners in any significant endeavor—from disaster response and humanitarian relief, to peacemaking and peacekeeping, to warfighting. Free and unhampered use of the world’s oceans is a necessary condition for the United States to form coalitions of like-minded nations and for the Navy to operate on and from the sea with coalition navies and pursue the Global Maritime Partnership Initiative (i.e., the 1000-ship navy) and work with the navies of other peace- loving nations.1 Part and parcel to this is for all nations concerned to have a common frame of reference for the legal regime of the oceans.
U.S. failure to ratify UNCLOS raises fundamental questions regarding not only the future of legal regimes applicable to the world’s oceans, but also U.S. leadership in promoting international law and order.
Additionally, our partners lose confidence in the ability of the United States to make good on its word when we negotiate and sign treaties but don’t ultimately become party to them, especially as in the case of UNCLOS where the U.S. negotiated aggressively to win valuable concessions and won them.