Law of the Sea

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  • Commentary

    China Doesn't Get It

    Beijing likely believes it is in its interest to signal strength and show no intention of conceding on its claims or positions. But that does not mean that will work to further China's interests. In fact, the opposite is true, given that China's behavior is backfiring in spectacular fashion.

    Oct 10, 2023

  • Commentary

    IUU Fishing: A Maritime Security Threat Requiring Unique Solutions

    Fish depreciate, have tighter profit margins than drugs, and have a consumer base that can impact demand. Using the weak points in illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing business models to decrease profitability won't solve IUU fishing worldwide, but it can decrease IUU fishing.

    Feb 8, 2024

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  • Report

    Report

    Maritime Issues in the East and South China Seas: Summary of a Conference Held January 12–13, 2016

    This conference summary presents key insights from a January 2016 conference focusing on maritime disputes in the East and South China Seas.

    Dec 12, 2016

  • A Korea Coast Guard ship

    Commentary

    South Korea Cracks Down on Illegal Chinese Fishing, with Violent Results

    In the Yellow Sea and elsewhere, Chinese fishermen have shown an increasing willingness to challenge attempts by coast guards to enforce fishing laws. Earlier this week, after repeated warnings, the Korea Coast Guard opened fire on a Chinese vessel fishing illegally in Korean waters.

    Nov 4, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama (right) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during an arrival ceremony at the White House in Washington, September 25, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Actions Are Causing U.S. 'Militarization' of the Pacific

    Beijing's aggression in the Asia-Pacific is threatening key U.S. allies, causing America to respond. Any change in U.S. policy must be based on changes in Chinese behavior.

    Nov 3, 2016

  • A Chinese Coast Guard vessel is pictured on the disputed Second Thomas Shoal, part of the Spratly Islands, in the South China Sea, March 29, 2014

    Commentary

    The Crucial South China Sea Ruling No One Is Talking About

    The PCA found in July that China's coast guard had breached several UNCLOS articles governing safety and navigation at sea. Hopefully, this will help build a legal case that abiding by basic maritime safety principles is in the interest of all countries, including China.

    Sep 16, 2016

  • A People's Liberation Army Air Force's long-range strategic bomber H-6K

    Commentary

    China Signals Resolve with Bomber Flights Over the South China Sea

    Since the PCA tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines' case on July 12, invalidating many of China's claims in the South China Sea, Beijing has sought to demonstrate its military strength in the region. The PLAAF's H-6K has played a key role.

    Aug 2, 2016

  • An aerial photo taken though a glass window of a Philippine military plane shows the alleged on-going land reclamation by China on Mischief reef in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan, Philippines, May 11, 2015.

    Commentary

    Judgment on the South China Sea: What's Next?

    On July 12, the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines' claims to maritime entitlements in the South China Sea. How China reacts could have far-reaching consequences for all nations that depend on a peaceful and integrated Southeast Asia.

    Jul 22, 2016

  • The Indonesian frigate KRI Karel Satsuit Tubin in an exercise with the USCG Cutter Sherman, July 15, 2006

    Commentary

    Indonesia-China Tensions in the Natuna Sea: Evidence of Naval Efficacy Over Coast Guards?

    The notion that Southeast Asian countries should employ coast guards instead of navies to enforce maritime laws had been gaining currency. But many of the coast guard fleets lack sufficient capacity to deal with the threats along their coast and in disputed waters in the South China Sea.

    Jul 5, 2016

  • The guided-missile destroyer USS Chafee (DDG 90), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers JS Yamayuki (DD-129) and JS Yamagiri (DD-152) conduct formation drills during a passing exercise

    Commentary

    The Fallout from the Philippines Arbitration Case Against China

    What compels compliance with rulings based on international law? Whether or not China will pay a political price for ignoring a U.N. Law of the Sea Convention ruling will to a large degree be determined by how forceful other states respond in the aftermath of court action.

    Jun 30, 2016

  • The aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis approaches the fast combat support ship USNS Rainier during a replenishment at sea in the South China Sea, March 4, 2016

    Commentary

    South China Sea Spat a Symptom of U.S.-China Jockeying for Advantage

    A spate of high-profile diplomatic feuds and military actions related to the South China Sea has raised concern about the direction of U.S.-China relations. Neither country is well positioned politically or economically to engage in a long-term, antagonistic relationship, let alone a major conflict.

    Jun 27, 2016

  • U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a meeting with leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during a summit held at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, February 16, 2016

    Commentary

    The Importance of Sunnylands for U.S.-ASEAN Relations

    The first ever Association for Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held on U.S. soil took place earlier this month. Its success should be measured by the fact that the U.S. prioritized relations with the region enough to host its first summit. It should be regarded as the beginning of a new era in U.S.-ASEAN relations.

    Feb 24, 2016

  • U.S. President Obama departs after his remarks and a tour of the Philippine Navy's BRP Gregorio Del Pilar at Manila Harbor, Philippines, November 17, 2015

    Commentary

    Obama Doubles Down on Maritime Capacity Building in Southeast Asia

    By contributing to coast guard capacity building by donating ships and funding, the United States has found an important and politically viable avenue to bolster maritme security to partners and allies in Southeast Asia.

    Dec 15, 2015

  • USS Lassen conducts exercises with Korean and Turkish navy ships

    Commentary

    How Will China Respond to Future U.S. Freedom of Navigation Ops?

    On October 27, the USS Lassen carried out the first freedom of navigation patrol to challenge China's territorial claims in the South China Sea. In assessing China's potential response to follow-on operations, the extremes of either complete inaction or a military attack can be ruled out.

    Oct 29, 2015

  • Chinese dredging vessels are purportedly seen around Fiery Cross Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea May 21, 2015

    Commentary

    China's Airfield Construction at Fiery Cross Reef in Context: Catch-Up or Coercion?

    Even if China really sees itself as undertaking legitimate activities to protect its rightful interests, it is not surprising that its rival claimants, as well as the United States and other countries in the region, see Beijing's island building activities as efforts to improve China's abilities to bully its neighbors.

    Aug 11, 2015

  • A Chinese Coast Guard vessel in the South China Sea maneuvers to block a Philippine supply ship with members of the media aboard, March 29, 2014

    Commentary

    China's Island-Building Stirs Fears, but Creates Openings for the United States

    News of proposed Navy patrols nearby disputed islands claimed by China suggests that the United States is toughening its response to Beijing's assertive territorial claims in the South China Sea.

    May 18, 2015

  • Russian-flagged tanker Renda navigates through ice on its way to the Alaskan port of Nome

    Commentary

    Crimea, Climate Change, and U.S.-Russian Relations: A Perfect Storm

    Russia possesses the world's most Arctic shoreline, water, and operating resources. But the United States is also an Arctic nation, even if much of the American public tends to under-appreciate this special status.

    May 6, 2014

  • Navy patrolling the Western Pacific

    Commentary

    How to Avert a Sea Catastrophe with China

    The United States should propose and pursue an East Asian maritime partnership, inviting to join all states that share its interest in assured access and passage, writes David Gompert.

    May 9, 2013

  • world map with China colored red like its flag

    Commentary

    Will China's Nationalism Come Back to Bite Leaders?

    It is possible that at some point, anti-Japan protests could slip beyond the regime's control, and Party leaders worry that mishandling such tensions could affect the regime's legitimacy—and ultimately erode its grip on power, writes Scott Harold.

    Sep 5, 2012

  • Puzzle map of Southeast Asia

    Report

    Security Issues Facing the Tri-Border Area Between the Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia

    The area between the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia is a key hub of terrorist and related criminal activity in Southeast Asia. The Coast Watch System was designed to improve maritime domain awareness in the region but has some issues to overcome.

    May 17, 2012

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Odd Man Out at Sea

    The United States has yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As a result, the U.S., the world's leading maritime power, is at a military and economic disadvantage, write Thad W. Allen, Richard L. Armitage, and John J. Hamre.

    Apr 25, 2011

  • Commentary

    Commentary

    Industry Insights: What's So Hard About Stopping Piracy?

    Containing persistent maritime disorder might be more fruitful and could lay the foundations for a successful transition to better use of the sea once the societal factors—an even longer term problem—have been resolved, writes Laurence Smallman.

    Apr 11, 2011