Arbitration clause in UNCLOS expands US options for resolving disputes, expanding ability to protect sovereignty
[ Page 282 ]
The presence of a clause providing binding arbitration should not be viewed as a limitation on U.S. sovereignty. The United States retains, as do all countries ratifying UNCLOS, the right to resolve conflicts through diplomatic means. The arbitration provision provides further means for countries to resolve disputes. In essence, it provides additional rights and capabilities to the states that would not normally exist. As such, it serves as an extended means of enforcing sovereignty when diplomatic solutions fail. Therefore, arbitration is not a limit on the sovereignty of states, but rather a guardian of state sovereignty.
The costs associated with the dispute resolution provisions in UNCLOS are similar to those the United States is already subject to under the principles of universal jurisdiction and territoriality and numerous other agreements the U.S. has already ratified. Furthermore, the Convention provides the United States with an escape from mandatory dispute resolution which the U.S. has already invoked in its signing statements to ensure that the U.S. military will not be threatened by UNCLOS tribunals.