Two decades of widespread UNCLOS observance in Arctic have given treaty status of binding customary international law
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Additionally, the practice of States in a regional grouping, such as the Arctic Circle, can result in special customary law for all of the similarlysituated States, applicable only in that area.n353 Further jeopardizing American interests is that the doctrine of the continental shelf in particular has been considered "instant customary law,"n354 provided that the practice of States whose interests are affected is sufficiently extensive and uniform to indicate a legal obligation.n355 If the other Arctic nations continue to assert sovereign rights, uniformly based on an extended continental shelf, America may easily be hamstrung by provisions that it does not acknowledge but nonetheless prove binding. By way of example, if an American mining corporation were to form a consortium under a bilateral treaty to harvest sea floor resources with a State that was already a member of UNCLOS, and sought to mine in an area already recognized by UNCLOS as an extension of another Arctic State's continental shelf, or even merely outside its own EEZ, it would contravene the Convention and also subject both countries to international judicial proceedings.n356
It has been suggested that the universal right of navigation under UNCLOS n357 might be able to provide an alternate legal basis for claiming Arctic economic rights.n358 However, finessing this argument into a circumvention of the Convention's obligations and limits within the Arctic would be nothing more than unilateralism disguised as political legerdemain. The blithe dismissal of UNCLOS in favor of reliance on the Grotian conception of the freedom of the high seas in order to legitimize American rights over Arctic resources mistakenly ignores the global support and position of authority UNCLOS has achieved.
Rather, in all likelihood, America might be forced to accept the modus vivendi n359 in the Arctic that has developed over two decades of widespread UNCLOS observance. If the Senate continues to blockade attempts to ratify the treaty, other contingencies should be considered, such as negotiating alternate regimes or implementing UNCLOS via executive order.n360 Should several "uncooperative members of the Senate" force the United States to the sidelines, "the shortterm political costs of resubmitting UNCLOS [as an executive agreement would be justified] by America's need to be a full player in the remainder of this Arctic competition."
"Implications of Global Warming on State Sovereignty and Arctic Resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: How the Arctic is no Longer Communis Omnium Naturali Jure
." Richmond Journal of Global Law & Business
. Vol. 8. (Winter 2008): 195-248. [ More (12 quotes) ]
By remaining outside of UNCLOS, the U.S. is ceding its leadership role in the region in a number of ways. First, and most importantly for the U.S. strategic and economic interests, by remaining outside of the treaty the U.S. is not able to submit its claims for the extended continental shelf in the Arctic to the CLCS, preventing U.S. industries from claiming mineral rights. Secondly, existing Arctic governance regimes are based on and rely on UNCLOS and the U.S. non-party status prevents it from contributing as a full partner, weakening the overall Arctic governance regime. Finally, U.S.