Legal Frameworks for the Joint Development of Hydrocarbon Resources
NUS Centre for International Law series
Edited by Robert Beckman, Ian Townsend-Gault, Clive Schofield, Tara Davenport and Leonardo Bernard
Chapter 2: International law, UNCLOS and the South China Sea
This chapter will discuss the international legal framework governing the disputed islands in the South China Sea. It will first briefly explain the territorial sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea between Brunei Darussalam, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Viet Nam and Taiwan (the claimants) and the principles and rules of international law on the acquisition and loss of territorial sovereignty. It will then examine the significance of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to the South China Sea disputes, including its provisions on the maritime zones which can be claimed by States from their mainland territory and from offshore geographic features, its provisions on maritime boundary delimitation and its provisions on dispute settlement. Finally, it will examine the evolving position of the claimants with regard to their maritime claims in the South China Sea. The objective of this chapter is to demonstrate that if the claimants comply in good faith with the relevant provisions of UNCLOS, it will clarify the maritime disputes and facilitate the establishment of a framework which will enable the claimants to co-operate in areas of overlapping maritime claims.
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