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Law and Politics in the South China Sea: Assessing the Role of UNCLOS in Ocean Dispute Settlement Open Access


Other title
South China Sea
law of the sea
international politics
ocean dispute settlement
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Hong, Nong
Supervisor and department
Jiang, Wenran (Political Science)
Examining committee member and department
Xu, Yingfeng (Economics)
Keating, Tom ( Political Science)
Anderson, Greg ( Political Science)
Harder, Lois (Political Science)
Townsend-Gault, Ian (Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia)
Knight, Andy (Political Science)
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
This dissertation evaluates the applicability and effectiveness of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as a settlement mechanism for addressing the South China Sea (SCS) dispute, the most complex and challenging ocean-related regional conflict in East Asia. This dissertation answers these broad questions: Does UNCLOS create a constitution for the ocean? Is UNCLOS successful in preventing or managing conflicts pertaining to marine resources? Hoes does the SCS dispute settlement bridge the gap of International Relations (IR) and International Law (IL)? Since 1980s, the regime concept came to be used as one vehicle to cross the disciplinary divide between IL and IR. This dissertation seeks to foster dialogue between political scientists and international lawyers by viewing UNCLOS as an international regime and exploring its internal coherence and its external relationship with other international regimes and institutions in this region. I argue that there can be little doubt about the centrality of UNCLOS in the legal framework for ocean management, albeit it may be perceived to have certain shortcomings. The most pervasive threats to the SCS stability and obstacles to solve the dispute are caused by the lack of political will to implement the dispute settlement mechanism of UNCLOS. This paper proposes a pragmatic settlement regime of five dimensions to solve the SCS dispute and accelerate ocean governance in this region.
License granted by Nong Hong ( on 2010-04-14T14:32:57Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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