Managing Conflict In Troubled Waters: The Case of the South China Sea

Nalanda Roy, Nalanda Roy
2013 unpublished
Sea has recently become the locus of disputes that have the potential of escalating into serious international conflicts. It is a critical region among the disputing countries because of its geographic position in major oceanic routes used by crude oil tankers from the Persian Gulf to Asia and for transporting goods to the rest of the world. It is important, as well, for its promising offshore oil and gas reserves, other undersea resources, and rich marine life. This dissertation addresses
more » ... tion addresses three questions: First, what factors increase the probability of conflicts in the South China Sea region? Second, what is the role of ASEAN in managing conflicts in the SCS region? And third, what is the likely utility of other conflict prevention mechanisms in the SCS region? Following a careful review of existing literature relevant to the South China Sea disputes, the study assesses the effectiveness of UNCLOS as an international legal regime in addressing them. It also discusses each of the disputing parties, their individual stakes in specific disputes, and the long history and current status of the disputes. Special attention is paid to the involvement of China as well as "external" powers like the United States and India. The dissertation additionally weighs ASEAN's role in the development and functioning of Asia-Pacific multilateralism, and its limited capacity to create a sense of regional community and address SCS disputes effectively. ASEAN's main role has iii been one of reiterating the norm of peaceful resolution of conflicts and engaging the parties in successive conferences, workshops, and supposed confidence-building measures. Although this study does suggest a few more such measures that might help to moderate tensions, it ends on a pessimistic note about the prospect of future armed conflicts in the South China Sea. iv ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS