April 25 2011
It's been in place for nearly 30 years; nearly 160 countries (plus the European Union) have signed it. But the United States has yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a result, the United States, the world's leading maritime power, is at a military and economic disadvantage.
The convention codifies widely accepted principles on territorial waters (which it defines as those extending 12 miles out to sea), shipping lanes and ocean resources. It also grants each signatory exclusive fishing and mining rights within 200 miles of its coast (called the exclusive economic zone). Although the United States originally voted to create the convention and negotiated many provisions to its advantage, Congress has never ratified it.