UNCLOS and the Seven Percent “Solution”

by Julian Ku

Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation passes along this useful review of the effect of UNCLOS ratification on U.S. development of its extended continental shelf.  It argues that if the U.S. joins UNCLOS, it could be obligated to turn over as much as 7 percent of royalty revenue derived from development of its extended continental shelf to the International Seabed Authority created by UNCLOS.

I think this is a good point and offers a real and practical critique of the consequences of joining UNCLOS.  On the other hand, I think his argument also misses an important issue. What happens when the U.S. has a dispute with another country over a continental shelf or extended continental shelf?  How will the U.S. be able to guarantee “title” to potential developers without UNCLOS?

I am not saying the U.S. should join UNCLOS, but I am not sure forking over 7 percent is not worth it in order to gain globally recognized title.


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