U.S. non-participation in UNCLOS has tangible costs to our national security
[ Page 19 ]
On balance, the arguments in favor of the convention far outweigh those opposed, which is the reason the convention has attracted such a diverse and bipartisan constituency. As presidents Clinton and George W. Bush forcefully argued in their written communications with the Senate (Appendix II), objections to the 1982 convention were substantively addressed in the 1994 agreement on implementation. Continuing to treat most parts of the convention as customary international law, as the United States does now, literally leaves it without a seat at the table in important decision-making bodies established by the convention, such as the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS); weakens the hand the United States can play in negotiations over critical maritime issues, such as rights in the opening of the Arctic Ocean; and directly undercuts U.S. ability to respond to emerging challenges, such as increasing piracy in the Indian Ocean. Joining or not joining the convention is more than an academic debate. There are tangible costs that grow by the day if the United States remains outside the convention.
U.S. failure to ratify UNCLOS has damaged U.S. national security and economic growth by forclosing valuable opportunities, increasing the costs for military operations, and crippling U.S. maritime leadership as our adversaries become more aggressive.