As a non-party to convention, US has no way of preventing convention from evolving in ways inimical to US interest
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US accession to the UNCLOS regime would also enable and facilitate full US participation in how the law of the sea is further defined, applied, and modified. The 1982 Convention marked the end of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III). It did not mark the cessation of the evolution and development of this branch of international law. And yet, the international community, by and large, has decided to pursue this process of evolution and development in the context of the UNCLOS regime. This alone speaks to the importance of securing the participation of all major ocean states. US non-participation compromises this. In essence, US non- participation denies the US a 'place at the table' within key institutions created as a consequence of the Convention and related agreements. For example, as a non-party the US has no representative on the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) and is ineligible to put forward a member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). This is surely problematic from a US perspective. As noted above, the Convention is now widely accepted as the basis for global oceans governance yet the law of the sea continues to evolve and change. Without US input, the international law of the sea is likely to be shaped in a manner that does not fully take into account US national interests. This is why complacent arguments that the US can take advantage of the benefits that the Convention offers on the basis that it is reflective of customary international law, whilst avoiding the costs of participation are flawed. Such a strategy represents a distinct abdication of responsibility that carries with it the long-term risk that international custom will ultimately run counter to US interests.
"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) ]
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.