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Abstract

In the face of twenty-first century challenges to military maritime mobility, the question persists as to whether customary international law will remain a reliable foundation for U.S. maritime security interests in the future. To date, the U.S. has successfully conducted military operations sanctioned by the customary high seas freedoms of free navigation and overflight. However, with technological advances and heightened environmental and defense concerns, countries with coastal state interests may demand greater control over their near-shore waters, requiring the U.S. to reconsider its position outside the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This article addresses pertinent issues relating to the subject, including whether the U.S. should continue to rely on the legitimate, but unstructured, processes of customary law to guarantee military access; and whether U.S. national security interests would be better served by a commitment to UNCLOS.

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