Annual Report to the President and the Congress [April 1997]   [open pdf - 297KB]

Alternate Title: Department of Defense Report to Congress: Annual Freedom of Navigation Report, Fiscal Year 1996

From the Document: "Important U.S. navigation and overflight interests in the world's oceans continue to be challenged by the excessive claims of certain coastal states which assert maritime claims inconsistent with international law. Such excessive claims are contrary to the clear international consensus demonstrated by the entry into force of the UN Law of the Sea (LOS) Convention and the large number of States party to the Convention (107 States as of September 30, 1996). Although not yet a party to the LOS Convention, the United States views the navigational provisions of the Convention as reflective of customary international law and, as such, available for all nations to enjoy. Despite these positive developments in the law of the sea, it remains necessary for maritime nations, like the United States, to protest excessive claims by coastal states through diplomatic channels and to exercise navigation and overflight rights in disputed areas. The United States Freedom of Navigation program has challenged excessive claims to counter any argument that such claims are valid due to acquiescence over time. Since its inception in 1979, the Freedom of Navigation program has filed over 100 diplomatic protests and conducted over 300 operational assertions against excessive claims. In FY 1996, the U.S. armed forces conducted operational assertions against the excessive maritime claims of the countries listed in the table below. In addition, military vessels and aircraft frequently conducted routine transits on, over, and under international straits, such as the Straits of Gibraltar, Hormuz, and Malacca. Over 50 air, surface, and subsurface transits through the archipelagic sea lanes of Indonesia and the Philippines were conducted in accordance with the LOS Convention."

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