Law of the Sea

  • Journal Article

    The Opening of the Transpolar Sea Route: Logistical, Geopolitical, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Impacts

    Climate models project that a seasonal shipping route via the North Pole may open by mid-century. This paper examines estimates of the route's opening, scenarios for its commercial and logistical development, regional geopolitics, and environmental and socioeconomic consequences.

    Sep 9, 2020

  • A woman walks past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Shanghai, China March 12, 2020, photo by Aly Song/Reuters

    Commentary

    Don't Be Fooled by China's Mask Diplomacy

    China has provided coronavirus-related aid to hundreds of countries. This appears to be an effort to make the world forget its role in the COVID-19 crisis—and to take advantage of its neighbors' current distraction.

    May 5, 2020

  • A view shows JDC Hakuryu-5 deep water drilling platform in the South China Sea off the coast of Vung Tau, Vietnam, April 29, 2018, photo by Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

    Commentary

    Reviewing Vietnam's 'Struggle' Options in the South China Sea

    Once again, Chinese assertiveness against Vietnam in the South China Sea is on the rise. Vietnam has publicly protested each Chinese move, but these statements have yet to alter Beijing's bad behavior. Among its many options, Hanoi could look to Washington for further assistance.

    May 4, 2020

  • A Chinese flag flutters on a fishing boat while a China Coast Guard patrols at the disputed Scarborough Shoal April 5, 2017, photo by Erik de Castro/Reuters

    Commentary

    A Short History of China's Fishing Militia and What It May Tell Us

    China's armed fishing militia plays an instrumental role in Beijing's strategy to enforce its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea. Why did Beijing create a maritime militia to begin with and how has it evolved over time? What does this history suggest about its future?

    Apr 6, 2020

  • China Coast Guard ship seen from an Indonesian Naval ship during a patrol at Indonesia’s Exclusive Economic Zone sea north of the Natuna Islands, Indonesia, January 11, 2020, photo by M Risyal Hidayat/Antara Foto Agency/Reuters

    Commentary

    Why Is China Pressing Indonesia Again Over Its Maritime Claims?

    China sparked a major maritime confrontation with Indonesia near the South China Sea in December when dozens of Chinese fishing vessels, along with a coast guard escort, entered waters off the Natuna Islands. What drove Beijing to stake out its sovereignty claims against Indonesia at this particular time? And what can Indonesia and other regional neighbors expect of Chinese behavior going forward?

    Jan 16, 2020

  • A Chinese Coast Guard ship from the bow of a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, near Vietnam, May 14, 2014, photo by Nguyen Minh/Reuters

    Commentary

    Vietnam Needs to 'Struggle' More in the South China Sea

    With the standoff between China and Vietnam at the disputed Vanguard Bank ended, it makes sense to take stock of how Hanoi's security strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion. It may be time for Vietnam to consider a careful recalibration to allow for more “struggle” and less “cooperation.”

    Nov 15, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy stand guard in the Spratly Islands, known in China as the Nansha Islands, February 10, 2016

    Commentary

    Why Vanguard Bank and Why Now? Explaining Chinese Behavior in the South China Sea

    What can Vietnam do now to make Chinese assertiveness against it less likely going forward? Although deepening the U.S.-Vietnam defense partnership in the short-term may be contributing to trouble with China, closer cooperation in the long-run could serve to deter China. Enhancing cooperation with Vietnam's other defense partners—namely Australia, Japan, and India—could help to deter Beijing as well.

    Aug 19, 2019

  • Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army Navy patrol at Fiery Cross Reef, in the Spratly Islands, February 9, 2016, photo by China Stringer Network/Reuters

    Commentary

    Time to Speak Up About the South China Sea

    Some leaders in Southeast Asia may fear that new or enhanced postures in the South China Sea could antagonize China. But directly calling out China's breaks from the status quo or intimidation tactics may not necessarily put these countries at risk of Chinese countermeasures.

    Mar 20, 2019

  • A Russian nuclear icebreaker cuts a path through the Arctic photo by SeppFriedhuber/Getty Images

    Commentary

    How Not to Compete in the Arctic

    The Arctic defies simplistic views of geopolitical friends and foes. The United States and its allies do not necessarily agree on key issues, while U.S. strategic competitors might find common ground with America. The United States could fine-tune its defense policy tools in the Arctic to ensure that its actions do not hamper relations with allies and shore up the position of adversaries.

    Feb 27, 2019

  • Journal Article

    Crossing Interagency Lines: Enhancing Navy-Coast Guard Cooperation to Combat Gray Zone Conflicts of East Asia

    Using the region of East Asia as a case study, paper proposes that greater coordination and interoperability between navies and coast guards should be pursued among States in the region as one prescription to address gray zone challenges.

    Jan 8, 2019

  • Aerial view of the horizon and sea ice at the ice floe edge at midnight, Baffin Island, Canada

    Testimony

    Climate, Geopolitics, and Change in the Arctic

    Climate change is increasing worldwide interest in the Arctic, where the physical impacts of the change are being felt sooner and more intensely than in other regions. But climate is just one of many key factors that will influence the Arctic's geopolitical future.

    Nov 26, 2018

  • Russian nuclear ice breaker heading to the North pole through pack ice, aerial shot from helicopter

    Testimony

    Russia’s and China’s Evolving Roles in the Arctic

    Two changes have altered the geopolitical environment in the Arctic over the past five to ten years. Russia continues to increase its assertiveness in the region. And non-Arctic states, including China, have begun to play a larger role. What new challenges and opportunities do these developments pose to Canada and other Arctic states?

    Nov 26, 2018

  • China's Liaoning aircraft carrier with accompanying fleet conducts a drill in an area of South China Sea, December, 2016

    Commentary

    The Quad Needs Broadening to Balance China—and Now's the Time to Do It

    Even in its resurrected form, the Quad could be in danger of failing to achieve its mission. The Quad might consider getting its house in order by extending dialogue partnerships to ASEAN maritime counterclaimant states.

    Oct 22, 2018

  • Malaysian and Vietnamese fishing boats are destroyed for illegal fishing by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, police and navy, in Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia, April 5, 2016

    Commentary

    Assessing Recent Developments in Indonesian Maritime Security

    Despite a daunting set of maritime challenges, Indonesia has placed renewed emphasis on maritime security governance. While the programs in place may take decades to bear fruit, Indonesia is on the path to securing the waterways and infrastructure so key to its overall economic development.

    Oct 12, 2018

  • A Vietnamese floating guard station on the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, April 12, 2010

    Commentary

    Deciphering Vietnam's Evolving Military Doctrine in the South China Sea

    Vietnam has sought to balance China's expanding presence in the South China Sea through diplomacy and military modernization. The Vietnam People's Army has acquired many useful weapons, but unfamiliarity with combat in the sea and air will test its evolving military doctrine.

    May 11, 2018

  • Report

    The Future of Arctic Cooperation in a Changing Strategic Environment: Insights from a Scenario-Based Exercise Organised by RAND and Hosted by NUPI

    This Perspective summarises the results of a table-top exercise on factors that could upset Arctic cooperation in the 2020 decade. While this exercise confirmed the solidity of cooperation, it also identified "wild cards" that could create tensions.

    May 8, 2018

  • Report

    A Preliminary Assessment of Indonesia's Maritime Security Threats and Capabilities

    This study identifies the threats and priority areas for Indonesia in the maritime security domain as a first step in an overall assessment of capability requirements and gaps.

    Apr 18, 2018

  • China Coast Guard vessels at the disputed Scarborough Shoal, April 5, 2017

    Commentary

    China Welcomes Its Newest Armed Force: The Coast Guard

    China's recent move to transfer responsibility for the China Coast Guard to the People's Armed Police will have major symbolic implications for China's presence in disputed waters. It can no longer claim its presence in the South China Sea is purely civilian in nature.

    Apr 4, 2018

  • A Chinese Coast Guard ship (top) and a Vietnam Marine Guard ship in the South China Sea, about 130 miles away from Vietnam, May 14, 2014

    Commentary

    Vietnam's Remarkable Month of Balancing Against China in the South China Sea

    Vietnam has engaged in a string of activities to strengthen deterrence against China in the South China Sea. But Hanoi's push to deepen external defense ties with states that can help its cause won't necessarily translate into greater risk-taking in the region.

    Mar 26, 2018

  • Report

    The U.S.-Japan Alliance and Deterring Gray Zone Coercion in the Maritime, Cyber, and Space Domains

    China is trying to change the status quo in the Indo-Pacific through gray zone coercion -- actions below the threshold that would trigger a military response. This report focuses on deterring such coercion in the maritime, cyber, and space domains.

    Nov 20, 2017