UNCLOS Debate . This up to date website has arguments on both sides of the debate.
Pro — General
The US needs to ratify UNCLOS. (2016) This article argues that ratification of LOST enables the US to support a rules based global order and to strengthen its soft power
Why the US Should ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty (2016). This article claims that ratification would boost US leadership/soft power and multilateral cooperation.
Almost everyone agrees: The US should ratify the Law of the Sea (2012). This article argues that LOST ratification would support US military power projection and that ratification is in the national interest.
China’s rise is a big reason to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention (2016). The article argues that LOST will provide the US with diplomatic clout needed to manage China’s rise.
Clinton Testimony. (2012) This general testimony argues —
- Many Presidents, including Republican Presidents, have supported LOST ratification
- LOST protects the security of US interests in the extended EEZ and in deep sea bed mining
Panetta Testimony. (2012) This testimony focuses on the military benefits of LOST ratification.
The National Interest and the Law of the Sea. (2009) Scott G. Borgerson explores an important element of the maritime policy regime: the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. He examines the international negotiations that led to the convention, as well as the history of debates in the United States over whether to join it. He then analyzes the strategic importance of the oceans for U.S. foreign policy today. The report ultimately makes a strong case for the United States to accede to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, contending that doing so would benefit U.S. national security as well as America’s economic and environmental interests. Among other things, the report argues, accession to the convention would secure rights for U.S. commercial and naval ships, boost the competitiveness of American firms in activities at sea, and increase U.S. influence in important policy decisions, such as adjudications of national claims to potentially resource-rich sections of the continental shelf.
Sovereignty, Soft Power, and the U.S.’s Refusal to Ratify the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. (2012). This article answers common objections to LOST ratification but in some rather vague and less precise ways. You should put it at the lower end of your reading list.
Global Oceans Regime: Issue Brief (2013). While not exclusively about LOST, this brief covers some general issues about oceans and supports LOST ratification.
Pro — South China Sea
UNCLOS in the South China Sea – a collection of articles from The Diplomat
Universalizing the Law of the Sea dispute in the South China Sea (2018) (gated) . This article argues that a resolution of the maritime disputes in the South China Sea must be based upon a universalist framework where the maritime interests of the world are upheld. The article discusses the universalist framework of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the universalist approach taken by the Tribunal on 12 July 2016 in the South China Sea Arbitration regarding the extinguishment of a state’s “exceptionalist” maritime claims and the adoption of strict criteria for the characterization of features at sea.
The South China Sea award: How we should read the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (2017).The conventional wisdom has been that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“UNCLOS”) Part XV dispute settlement system is narrowly restricted and this reflects the drafters’ intent. Thus, tribunals should cautiously interpret Part XV, giving broad effect to its jurisdictional limitations. The unanimous award in South China Sea deals this approach a blow. Indeed, it assumes a fundamentally different orientation to interpreting UNCLOS: one which implicitly takes the foremost principle of Part XV as being its compulsory and comprehensive character. This approach is rooted in a very different understanding of UNCLOS as “package deal” and the consensus it reflects. Indeed, I argue that any interpretation of ambiguous provisions of UNLCOS is necessarily coloured by one’s view of the struggles involved in its negotiation. Further evidence of this difference of approach in South China Sea is found, in particular, in its treatment of the regime of islands.
International Law is under Siege in the South China Sea (2017). China is the latest to flout international law, but the United States paved the way.
Why the US needs to ratify UNCLOS. (2012) This article contends the US needs to ratify LOST to strengthen its position in the South China Sea and to boost its influence in the Arctic and support conflict resolution there.
The United States should ratify the Law of the Sea Convention (2017). This article argues the US needs to ratify LOST in order to increase its diplomatic influence in SCS dispute resolution.
China’s Island Building in the South China Sea: A Neorealist approach to Island building in the South China Sea (2017). This thesis examines the recent Chinese actions in the South China Sea disputes. Is China carrying out a neorealist approach regarding its interests in the South China Sea while ignoring international laws and norms? Examining the current international laws, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, shows that China has little interest in observing them. If power or security is what the PRC is interested in, the actions taken should be able to demonstrate that, which is what this paper seeks to explain through the lens of neorealism. Natural resources are a negligible factor in the current actions of China, they are mostly focused on constructing defences in what is known as the doctrine of Island Chains and pushing any possible future war further away from the Chinese mainland. Chinese actions in the South China Sea are driven by the security dilemma in which the US features as the primary antagonist. Recognizing the neorealist approach of China’s interests is key to understanding why China won’t stop its actions regardless of US pressure.
Pro — Arctic
US presence in the Arctic won’t stop Russian and Chinese encroachment without Law of the Sea ratification (2017). The title is self-explanatory
AN ARCTIC RACE: HOW THE UNITED STATES’ FAILURE TO RATIFY THE LAW OF THE SEA CONVENTION COULD ADVERSELY AFFECT ITS INTERESTS IN THE ARCTIC (2009). This comment discusses the United States’ interests in the Arctic region and available methods of securing such interests. In part I, this comment provides background information on the geography of the Arctic. Part II reviews recent legal developments with respect to claims raised by countries bordering the Arctic. Part III examines the legal regime governing the use of the oceans and the relevant provisions of the Convention, including sovereignty limits, deep seabed mining, and methods of dispute resolution. Part IV evaluates the United States’ position with respect to Arctic sovereignty. First, this section explores the reasons for failing to ratify the Convention by the United States. Next, it analyzes the pros and cons of ratifying the Convention as well as the pros and cons of maintaining the status quo. It also analyzes whether customary law or a mini-treaty could secure American interests in the Arctic region. Finally, this comment concludes that diminishing natural resources and the high instability of regions where such resources are still present stimulate the need of the United States to ratify the Convention to preserve its right to influence the Arctic’s future.
The Arctic could be the next South China Sea. Rich with energy resources, minerals and strategic positioning, the warming Arctic is ripe for territorial disputes, Adm. Zukunft warns.
Areas of no conflict (2018)
Piracy and the Law of the Sea (2009). This article contains a number of pieces of evidence as to why LOST will not prevent piracy.
The costs of US Accession to UNCLOS (2012). This Congressional testimony argues that if the US ratifies LOST it will have to pay royalties on any resources that are recovered within its extended EEZ.
Seven reasons the US should not ratify the Law of the Sea (2017). This brief article is from a conservative newspaper – The Daily Caller – and outlines common conservative objections to the treaty.
Sea Treaty draws opposition from conservatives(2014). This interview contains a defense of common objections to LOST.
Ratifying the Law of the Sea Treaty Would Harm US Sovereignty (2011). The title is self-explanatory.
Accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Is Unnecessary to Secure U.S. Navigational Rights and Freedoms. For more than 200 years, the United States has successfully preserved and protected its navigational rights and freedoms by relying on naval operations, diplomatic protests, and customary international law. U.S. membership in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) would not confer any maritime right or freedom that the U.S. does not already enjoy. The U.S. can best protect its rights by maintaining a strong U.S. Navy, not by acceding to a deeply flawed multilateral treaty.
Accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea Is Unnecessary to Secure U.S. Navigational Rights and Freedoms (2011). The title is self-explanatory.
UNCLOS won’t help the US in the South China Sea (2016) The title is self-explanatory.
Con — Arctic