Dispute resolution mechanisms in UNCLOS same as in other international agreements and do not threaten military
[ Page 46 ]
MYTH: Dispute resolution mechanisms of the convention are binding on the United States.
This assertion is undeniable. The United States will, by declaration as detailed in the draft Senate Resolution of Advice and Consent, choose arbitration or special arbitration as the method applicable for most categories of disputes. That is consistent with many other international agreements, including the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of Provisions of the Law of the Sea for the Conservation of Fish Stocks, which the United States joined in 1996. The use of such mechanisms is not considered a surrender of sovereignty by the majority. Some disputes specific to the resources of the seabed beyond national jurisdiction will be subject to resolution in the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. The jurisdiction of this chamber, by definition, falls outside areas of sovereign control. Finally, by declaration as detailed in the draft Senate Resolution of Advice and Consent, the United States will not accept any mandatory resolution mechanism for disputes concerning military activities, including military activities by government vessels and aircraft engaged in noncommercial service. The sovereign immunity of U.S. vessels and aircraft on government service will be protected by the convention.
The United States is already a party to more than 85 agreements (most of them multilateral in nature) that provide for the resolution of disputes by the International Court of Justice. It has also already accepted the dispute resolution mechanisms in UNCLOS by ratifying the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement and the 2000 Convention on Central and Western Pacific Fisheries, both of which incorporate by reference the dispute settlement provisions of the Convention.