The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and International Maritime Disputes: A Case Study of the South China Sea
International Maritime Unity where the whole world would collectively use the oceans, which occupies over 70% of the earth surface and its resources have been of great concern over the years. To accomplish this lofty goal, independent nations came together to put their ideas together in a well codified document in 1958 and 1982, leading to the final adoption of the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea in 1994 (UNCLOS). This document, amongst other things gave 12 nautical miles from the base line as national territorial sea, and a 200 nautical mile as Exclusive Economic Zone. This paper therefore probes into the effectiveness of this international maritime regime in the settlement of the disputed Spratly islands and waters of the South China Sea claimed by China up to 90% and in contest by five other South East Asian Nations; Vietnam, the Philippine, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei. It concludes that China had not abided by the UNCLOS by insisting on its ownership claims in the disputed islands and water despite the decision of an arbitration tribunal. It however recommends, among other things, economic exclusion of China to serve as deterrent to other potentially belligerent nations.
Keywords: United Nations, Convention, Law, Sea, Dispute, International Maritime