US is abdicating its global maritime leadership role by remaining outside of UNCLOS
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What is at stake is nothing less than the United States’ position as the world’s leading maritime power. Clearly, U.S. refusal to ratify this Convention, widely regarded as one of the most important international agreements ever negotiated, 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. This, in turn, makes the United States little more than an outsider looking in at the most comprehensive maritime treaty ever written and perhaps most perniciously, unable to propose any future amendments and less able to effectively counter other states’ proposed changes in treaty law that would be disadvantageous to the United States.6
In his remarks soon after assuming the post of Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mullen challenged the Navy “not to accept the status quo.” On the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Law of the Sea Convention, the Navy and its Sea Service partners must take an even more prominent leadership role in mustering public support for this treaty—support so overwhelming that the Senate will be motivated to bring it to a floor vote. To do anything less would be to forgo a viable path to stability and safety at sea and cede the world’s oceans to uncertainty and anarchy.
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.