Washington, DC (STL.News) The Department of Defense (DoD) released its annual Freedom of Navigation (FON) Report for Fiscal Year 2020 on March 10, 2021. Each year, DoD releases an unclassified FON Report identifying the broad range of excessive maritime claims that are challenged by the U.S. government. This year, with historic coastal state efforts to undermine the international law of the sea, U.S. forces challenged 28 different excessive maritime claims made by 19 different claimants throughout the world. The FON Report is made public to transparently signal the U.S. rejection of these maritime claims.
DoD’s operational challenges, also known as “FON operations,” and “FONOPs,” are designed to challenge coastal state maritime claims that unlawfully restrict navigation and overflight rights and freedoms and other internationally lawful uses of the sea related to these freedoms guaranteed in international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. FONOPs demonstrate the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows.
The comprehensive, regular, and routine execution of these operations complements U.S. Department of State efforts to abide by and uphold international law. These efforts include U.S. foreign assistance to strengthen international maritime law and U.S.