Rising tensions in the South China Sea have cast a pall over many actors and issues, but not international law. Indeed, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its mandatory dispute settlement mechanisms are arguably at the zenith of their popularity. Some believe that the U.S. Senate may soon finally ratify a treaty that has been adhered to by both Democratic and Republican administrations.
Perversely, the Obama administration’s focus on international law — with the arbitration ruling likely to be handed down shortly— may be badly undercut depending on how China reacts and behaves. Ideally, China would find in the ruling a diplomatic off ramp to avoid a clash at sea and promote new joint development of maritime resources.
To read the full article, visit the War on the Rocks website.
More from CNAS
How China and the U.S. Are Competing for Young Minds in Southeast Asia
Business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month warned that China has overtaken the United States in the development of artificial intelligence and other emer...
By Kristine Lee
China's Artificial Islands Are Bigger (And a Bigger Deal) Than You Think
Surely you have heard the news — China has been dredging up coral reefs and creating artificial islands in the South China Sea with the purpose of enforcing their claims...
By CDR Thomas Shugart, USN
Beijing's Go Big or Go Home Moment in the South China Sea
China is preparing for its go or go home moment in the South China Sea and it appears they have chosen the right time to make a play for regional and, ultimately, global domin...
By Jerry Hendrix
Parting the South China Sea
July 12, 2016, marked a turning point in the long-standing disputes over the South China Sea. After more than three years of proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration,...
By Mira Rapp-Hooper