CAN INTERNATIONAL LAW MAKE A DIFFERENCE UNCLOS AND THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
AIR WAR COLLEGE, AIR UNIVERSITY MAXWELL ABF United States
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There are challenges facing the international community, one of which is the fear of conflict born out of the inability to reach consensus and understanding. The volatile security situation in the South China Sea is a prime example and has made the region ripe for intervention. The South China Sea region has emerged as an unrivalled area of economic activity and natural resources and as a global hub of commerce. Adjoining nations are aggressively pursuing sovereignty claims over the islets and reefs to exploit and develop its economic and natural resources. Despite the high stakes, American strategy for the region is largely rhetorical. Focusing on the Spratly Islands and the July 2016 International Court of Justices Permanent Court of Arbitration PCA decision, this essay examines whether international law can play a role in diffusing the potential for conflict in the South China Sea. The failure on the part of the United States to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea is analyzed in light of the current situation and the role of international law can play in the region. Ultimately, the essay advocates a fresh approach to focusing on facilitating resolution of the sovereignty issues and the rule of law to more effectively and efficiently diffuse the hostility in the region and come to agreements on promoting equitable resource distribution. While the US has acknowledged the peaceful rise of China and it has diplomatic and economic power levers to compel change, international law is the only way to ensure stability in the region. Given the current international order and the desire of the United States to maintain its power status, international law will become increasingly important as states strive to maintain peace and stability in the region.
- Government and Political Science