UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

Latest in UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

South China Sea

Countering China’s Actions in the South China Sea

For many who follow developments in the South China Sea, the July 2016 tribunal ruling in the Philippines’ case against China has become the equivalent of the birth of Jesus in the Gregorian calendar: Developments are considered B.A. and A.A.—Before Award and After Award.

In the first year after the award, compliance was fair: Beijing largely kept its actions, if not its words, within the letter of the ruling.

South China Sea

Tillerson Channels Reagan on South China Sea

On January 11, Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson testified in his hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that perhaps the United States should deny China access to its artificial islands in the South China Sea. Tillerson is correct that in recent years the United States has forgotten basic lessons of deterrence when it comes to China and the South China Sea.

South China Sea

China’s Capture of U.S. Underwater Drone Violates Law of the Sea

On December 16 a Chinese warship snatched a U.S. underwater drone literally from under the eyes of the crew of a U.S. survey ship. The USNS Bowditch is an unarmed naval oceanographic vessel that was recovering two underwater drones in the Philippine exclusive economic zone (EEZ), about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay.

South China Sea

Whether the South China Sea Arbitral Award Matters Will Depend Almost Entirely On the U.S.

It has been two months since the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea arbitral tribunal issued its blockbuster award ruling against China’s maritime claims and activities in the South China Sea. Given all the buildup, it is remarkable how little has changed since the award was released. Was the award much ado about nothing? Not quite, or at least not yet. The award still matters, although the award’s continued significance depends almost entirely on the U.S. government’s reaction.

South China Sea

More Possible U.S. Responses to the South China Sea Award: Why Not Economic Sanctions?

In the two weeks that have passed since the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral tribunal issued its award against China, no drastic actions have been taken by any of the key parties. China has not acted to further militarize or otherwise bolster its presence in the Spratlys, and the Philippines has not demanded immediate Chinese withdrawal. Bilateral negotiations may indeed occur.

South China Sea

U.S. Response to the South China Sea Arbitration and the Limits of the Diplomatic “Shamefare” Option

In a post last week, I argued that the recent UN Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitral award against China opens the legal door to more aggressive U.S. freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) to directly challenge Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea. This week, I turn to another possible U.S. response to the arbitral award: diplomatic “shamefare.”

South China Sea

The South China Sea Arbitration: Implications for the Senkaku Islands

One of the big takeaways from the South China Sea arbitration is that the high-tide features in the Spratly Islands are mere “rocks” under Article 121(3) of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea because they “cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own.” This means that even the largest islands within the group lack an exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf.

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