US accession to UNCLOS would greatly increase territory under its sovereign control
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Perhaps the most obvious and compelling gain for the United States will be secure title to jurisdiction over the non-living resources of the seabed and subsoil of the continental shelf extending beyond 200 nautical miles (nm). Both customary and conventional international law recognize state rights to this limit, but sea areas beyond are high seas, and sea-bed and sub-soil are part of the common heritage of humanity. These principles have been in process of development since the 1960s. The Convention, however, allows coastal States to establish outer limits to the continental shelf that go beyond 200nm provided the conditions set for in Article 76 of the Convention are satisfied. Through this process the United States stands to gain rights to enormous areas of seabed, especially in the Arctic. The Convention established the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) to give official imprimatur to such outer continental shelf limits and thus the 'extended' or 'outer' continental shelf areas enclosed within them.9 This is crucially important, because without secure legal title, it is hard to envisage any commercial entity wishing to explore and exploit resources beyond 200nm being able or willing to invest the billions of dollars necessary to conduct such operations, especially in hostile environments such as the Arctic. It should not be forgotten that security of title, and the need to ensure proper control of activities, were among the policy considerations which led to the 'Truman Proclamation' on the Continental Shelf of 1945.10 This Proclamation laid the foundation for the entire modern law of the sea, because it took state rights beyond the limits of the territorial sea for the first time.
"Time for the United States to Join the Party? Prospects for US Ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
." International Zeitschrift
. Vol. 8, No. 3 (December 2012): 1-6. [ More (4 quotes) ]