Bilateral agreements over seabed jurisdiction would be abrogated by UNCLOS framework
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Additionally, entering into a treaty with other countries in which each country would recognize each other’s claim relating to deep seabed development would be of dubious legal validity. Article 137(3) of the Convention provides that “no state or natural or judicial person shall claim, acquire or exercise rights with respect to the minerals recovered from the Area except in accordance with this part. Otherwise, no such claim, acquisition or exercise of such rights shall be recognized.”133 Thus, entering into a treaty with other Arctic nations which have ratified the Convention and upon which the Convention is binding would not assure the United States access to mineral resources beneath the Arctic Ocean.134
Bilateral arrangements between states over ECS claims are not a viable alternative to the existing UNCLOS regime. The comprehensive international UNCLOS regime was proposed in the first place as a way of reducing the transaction costs of formulating all of these bilateral treaties. Additionally, they would have dubious legal validity, especially in regions like the Arctic where all other nations besides the U.S. have already ratified the treaty.