Ratification would give the US the ability to further amend and guide development of the treaty
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Among the benefits the U.S. will receive from UNCLOS membership is the ability to have a judge of U.S. nationality serve on the ITLOS and the right to participate in the amendment process of the treaty as provided for in Article 312. The power to amend the treaty is vested in the parties 10 years after the treaty has entered into force.18 The 10-year anniversary was November 16, 2004. The U.S. would be entering the game just as amendments become possible. Admittedly, the question of amendment to such a comprehensive legal instrument is fraught with difficulties, but U.S. membership ensures that any future amendments will only be adopted when the U.S. is a full participant in the process.
As the pre-eminent global maritime power, the U.S. has significant interests in the global effect of the Convention’s rules and their interpretation with many issues that of greater concern to us than to most other countries (for example, preserving freedom of navigation rights). Our adversaries view this as a weakness they can exploit and are shaping the course of the convention in ways adverse to U.S. interests while the U.S. remains on the sidelines, unable to participate in the discussion as a non-party.