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Sailing The Calm And Rough Seas: The Influence Of Wealth And Sovereignty In Southeast Asian Maritime Disputes

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Under what conditions do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations members use peaceful means to resolve their maritime disputes Why do they resort to military action in some cases, and compromise peacefully in others This thesis answers these questions by investigating two variables that influence the course of such disputes the presence of natural resources and disputes over sovereign control of maritime features. This thesis examines four cases of maritime dispute resolution maritime delimitation in the Singapore Strait by Indonesia and Singapore joint-development in the Gulf of Thailand the Pedra Branca dispute between Singapore and Malaysia and recurring violence in the South China Sea, involving multiple states in the region. After analyzing the case studies, this research finds that the presence of natural resources, and of conflicting claims of sovereignty over islands or other related features, strongly affect the outcome of the maritime disputes. In general, four different outcomes are possible maritime delimitation, joint development, third-party settlement, and violent conflict. Southeast Asian countries are likely to employ peaceful measures in a situation where at least one of the two variables studied here is absent. If both of them are present, maritime disputes will likely end in violence.

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  • Government and Political Science

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