The Law of the Sea Convention: A National Security Success - Global Strategic Mobility Through the Rule of Law

30 Pages Posted: 26 Jul 2010 Last revised: 5 May 2011

See all articles by James Kraska

James Kraska

Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, U.S. Naval War College; University of Virginia School of Law, Center for Oceans Law & Policy; University of Virginia School of Law, Center for National Security Law; University of California Berkeley School of Law; Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI); Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Date Written: July 25, 2010

Abstract

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea has been called a constitution for the world’s oceans because it provides a legal and policy architecture for conduct on, over, and under more than seventy percent of the globe. So far, the treaty has served as an enduring framework for ensuring a stability of expectations. In many respects, the Convention codifies customary international law and the state practice comprised of the cumulative actions of governments in areas such as transit through international straits and establishment of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ). The Convention has gone far toward fulfilling Professor Myres S. McDougal’s vision for a minimum world “public order of the oceans.” Professor McDougal and his collaborator, William T. Burke, suggested that developing a stable regime for the oceans required a “comprehensive . . . process of authoritative decision.” This process flowed from three distinct elements - interaction among the maritime states and ocean users, the rights of access of the international community to ocean space and the rights of coastal state to claim jurisdiction over ocean space, and determinations of decision makers responding to these competing claims. This process gave definition and certainty to the navigational regimes of the treaty. The unfolding process of authoritative decision for a public order of the oceans is displayed through maritime operational and diplomatic theater. In the contemporary era, this drama unfolds within the boundaries set by the Convention, and the United States and other countries have a great interest in ensuring the stability of those boundaries.

Keywords: UNCLOS, law of the sea, navigation, freedom of the seas, global commons, oceans, sea, maritime, power

Suggested Citation

Kraska, James, The Law of the Sea Convention: A National Security Success - Global Strategic Mobility Through the Rule of Law (July 25, 2010). George Washington International Law Review, Vol. 39, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1648629

James Kraska (Contact Author)

Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, U.S. Naval War College ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://https://www.usnwc.edu/Academics/Faculty/James-C--Kraska.aspx

University of Virginia School of Law, Center for Oceans Law & Policy ( email )

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University of Virginia School of Law, Center for National Security Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
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University of California Berkeley School of Law ( email )

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United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.law.berkeley.edu

Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI)

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Philadelphia, PA 19102
United States

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) ( email )

The Harold Pratt House
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New York, NY 10021
United States

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