Ratifying UNCLOS would restore US maritime leadership role and give it a role in shaping the future of the convent
[ Page 584 ]
UNCLOS would also greatly enhance the global leadership position ofthe United States in maritime affairs, an area in which the Coast Guard has long played a vital role. Many states have excessive claims with respect to baselines, historic bays, territorial seas, straits, and navigational restrictions which, in the opinion of many, are not permissible under the Convention. As a non-party, our ability to seek to roll back these excessive claims is severely inhibited. Failure to accede to UNCLOS will materially interfere with our ability to engage with other states to improve maritime governance, a maj or part of the Coast Guard's current strategy for maritime safety, security, and stewardship. Our non-party status is an obstacle that we must overcome in developing virtually any new multilateral maritime instrument. For example, several key states whom we want to join the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) often question our non-party status. Likewise, while the United States has long played a key role in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to promote maritime safety and efficiency and to protect the marine environment, our leadership position is being undermined by our current outsider status. As a non-party, the United States has no "seat at the table" in virtually all matters concerning the Convention. The United States does not have a judge on the Law of the Sea Tribunal nor a decision-maker or staff experts on the Continental Shelf Committee. And despite the fact that the 1994 "Part XI Implementation Agreement" guarantees the United States a permanent seat on the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and a veto on all key decisions of that body, as a non-party, we cannot play that critical role. In article after article, UNCLOS reflects diplomatic victory after victory for the United States. However, as a non-party, we cannot take advantage of these benefits. One of the key reasons that the congressionally mandated U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy has consistently and unanimously called for the United States to accede to the Convention was to regain its ocean policy leadership position.
U.S. ratification of UNCLOS would boost its leadership standing in a couple of ways. First, by acceeding to the treaty, the U.S. would immediately be able to participate in the discussion around the future of the treaty and participate in maritime forums that it had previously been locked out of. Secondly, by ratifying the treaty, the U.S. would improve its soft power by showing more of a willingness to cooperate multilaterally.