TopThis course examines issues of ocean law and policy in Asia. Our main focus will be on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was adopted in 1982 after nine years of negotiations. 1982 UNCLOS reflects a carefully negotiated balance of the security and economic interests of various groups of states, including naval powers, maritime powers, coastal states, island archipelagic states and land-locked states. The new legal framework in UNCLOS granted vast jurisdictional entitlements and managerial responsibilities to coastal states. UNCLOS is significant because it was the first global treaty to contain provisions requiring the protection and preservation of the marine environment. UNCLOS is also significant because most disputes between states concerning the interpretation and application of the Convention are subject to compulsory binding dispute settlement.
When negotiating the provisions in Part III on Straits Used for International Navigation, the straits that were foremost in the minds of the negotiators were the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which are vitally important sea lanes connecting the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. The provisions in Part IV on Archipelagic States were negotiated between the naval and maritime powers and the two largest archipelagic states, Indonesia and the Philippines. ASEAN states like Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia gained control of the natural resources in vast areas off the coasts, whereas other ASEAN States such as Thailand gained far less, and “geographically disadvantaged states’ like Singapore gained almost nothing in terms of resources.
This course examines the processes by which the international community has transformed ocean law and set new directions for ocean policy-making through UNCLOS and other international arenas. A special emphasis will be placed on shipping, transit and other navigational issues of vital interest to the security and economic interests of Singapore and countries in Asia. We will examine regional issues such as the following:
· the controversies surrounding the designation of sea lanes through the Indonesian archipelago
· the efforts to combat the threats of piracy and armed robbery in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore
· the efforts of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore to convince user states to share the burden of enhancing safety and environmental protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore
· the issues of maritime boundary delimitation between states in Asia
· the complex sovereignty and jurisdictional disputes over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea
· the efforts of China and other States in Asia to limit military activities, research activities and survey activities by the other States in the waters off their coasts