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Appendix H
NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION

NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION


In the modern security environment, it is increasingly important that the United States move quickly to accede to the Law of the Sea Convention. The Convention, as modified, provides a written legal regime that will protect U.S. national security interests, principally by preserving freedom of navigation and overflight worldwide. In dealing with threats such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, and worldwide narcotics trafficking, U.S. forces must have freedom to move swiftly and as a matter of right through the world’s oceans and straits. U.S. accession of the Convention would protect these rights and preserve reciprocity with other coastal nations.

The President transmitted the Law of the Sea Convention to the Senate in October 1994. U.S. accession to the Convention is necessary not only to ensure the protection of U.S. national security interests, but also to preserve U.S. credibility and standing within the international community on law of the sea issues.

DoD continues to fully support ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention. National security interests are intimately tied to the need to move warfighting units through international straits, archipelagic sea lanes, and international waters, as the Convention allows. The Convention guarantees the right of innocent passage through foreign territorial seas and constrains coastal nations from unreasonably extending their maritime boundaries. These assurances of vessel and aircraft mobility and limitations on unreasonable maritime claims will ensure preservation of U.S. capability to deter and respond whenever and wherever required pursuant to national security objectives.

The United States is currently the only maritime power that has not become a State Party to the Convention. As of November 1998, 130 nations are parties to the Treaty, including most U.S. allies. The failure to accede to the Convention continues to be detrimental to U.S. international reputation and adversely affects U.S. credibility in international fora, where the United States continues its efforts to preserve the right to freely move throughout the world’s oceans. Because the United States failed to accede to the Convention by November 1998, the United States has forfeited its provisional membership on the International Seabed Authority. Upon accession, however, the United States will regain membership in that body. For these reasons, acceding to the Convention at this time will substantially advance U.S. national security and economic interests.

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