Coastal states are increasingly challenging US freedom of navigation rights as it remains outside of the UNCLOS framework
[ Page 55 ]
Moreover, numerous states question the United States’ very right to enforce navigational freedoms conferred by the Convention when it is not party to it. It is likely that U.S. accession would decrease the number of state claims inconsistent with international law and also decrease the number of freedom of navigation challenges the Navy would have to conduct.
The global demands on the Navy and Coast Guard come at a time when the size of the nation’s Fleets has shrunk to unprecedented low levels. As fewer and fewer U.S. ships are available to support U.S. and coalition interests worldwide, it is more imperative than ever that these ships be able to exercise the rights of innocent passage, transit passage, and archipelagic sea lanes passage without asking prior permission or providing prior notification to coastal states. Equally important is the right of warships to operate freely and conduct military activities in the exclusive economic zones of all nations. These are rights that are being increasingly challenged by coastal nations.