The urgency for the United States joining the convention is twofold. First, by not being a state party to the convention, the United States is unable to nominate or elect the expert commissioners who carry out the work of the CLCS. That reduces the ability of the United States to contribute to the work of the commission and ensure that the convention is applied fairly and objectively. Moreover, when Russia submitted what many considered an overly expansive claim in the Arctic Ocean in 2001, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, could only file a demarche listing U.S. objections. By not acceding the convention, the United States has no standing before the commission in what will be the largest adjudication of state jurisdiction in world history.
Remaining a nonparty also prevents the United States from making its own submission to the commission. The State Department is currently overseeing an effort to collect evidence for an eventual American claim to the extended continental shelf, but the United States cannot formally submit this package for review by the CLCS until it formally joins the convention. By not joining, the United States is actually giving up sovereign rights—missing an opportunity for international recognition for a massive expansion of U.S. resources jurisdiction over as much as one million square kilometers of ocean, an area half the size of the Louisiana Purchase. Remaining outside the convention prevents the United States from participating in the process of overseeing the claims of other countries to the extended continental shelf and from formally making its own.