Building a Normative Order in the South China Sea
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Building a Normative Order in the South China Sea

Evolving Disputes, Expanding Options

Edited by Truong T. Tran, John B. Welfield and Thuy T. Le

The South China Sea, where a number of great powers and regional players contend for influence, has emerged as one of the most potentially explosive regions in the world today. What can be done to reduce the possibility of conflict, solve the outstanding territorial problems, and harness the potential of the sea to promote regional development, environmental sustainability and security? This book, with contributions from leading authorities in China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, Singapore and the United States, seeks to illuminate these questions.
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Chapter 11: Post-South China Sea arbitration challenge: toward regional cooperation for the environmental sustainability of the East Asian seas

Raphael P. M. Lotilla


With a view toward promoting the sustainable development of the semi-enclosed seas of East Asia, this chapter focuses on the South China Sea and the relevant rules of the law of the sea. The South China Sea Arbitration decision is reviewed insofar as it clarifies the rights and responsibilities of states relative to the marine environment across the entire breadth of the world's maritime areas. These duties are at all times owed by states to each other and to the global community irrespective of the sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction exercised by any state over a maritime zone, and include the duty to protect and conserve the marine environment, the duty to cooperate, and the duty to monitor, assess and communicate their activities, especially those falling within their jurisdiction which impact on the marine environment. These responsibilities assume higher relevance in the particular context of a semi-enclosed sea like the South China Sea where international law imposes stricter obligations on bordering states and corresponding standards for adherence, and where shared living marine resources contribute to the well-being of peoples and communities more significantly than in some other regions of the world. The post-arbitration challenge lies in demonstrating that regional cooperation toward sustainable development, as opposed to unilateral action, can be realized among bordering states which articulate, or at least once did, a common narrative of south–south solidarity.

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