Burden of proof on treaty proponents to show what national security gains U.S. will gain from accession to UNCLOS over status quo
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However, my main purpose for focusing on national security interests was to highlight the fact that the constituency that needs to be convinced to change its position on U.S. accession to the Convention is focused solely on national security. The common thread throughout all of the 60-plus UNCLOS briefings I presented on the Hill was – what affect will accession have on our national security? We did not have to convince the shipping industry or the oil and gas industry or the environmentalists. Those groups had already expressed their support for the Convention. We did, however, have to convince conservative senators that U.S. accession would not harm U.S. national security. The same remains true today – supporters of the Convention must be prepared to demonstrate what new benefits the United States will acquire by joining the Convention that it already does not enjoy. Those benefits, however, are difficult to articulate since most of the impor- tant ones from a national security perspective – e.g., transit passage, archi- pelagic sea lanes passage, high seas freedoms of navigation and overflight and resource rights in the EEZ and continental shelf – are already guaranteed to the United States under customary international law. Therefore, while I agree with my critics that U.S. accession to UNCLOS will not have a negative effect on U.S. national security (i.e., coastal states will continue to make excessive maritime claims whether the United States is a party to the Convention or not), by the same token, failure to join the Convention will not necessarily undermine U.S. national security now or in the foreseeable future.