How to resolve maritime disputes in a multipolar world? The answer can be provided by the creation of regional security mechanisms under the auspices of the UN
On August 9, the first online session of the UN Security Council on maritime security took place. The event was titled Strengthening Maritime Security: An Area of International Cooperation.
With the completion of the formation of a multipolar system of international relations and the expansion of the spheres of influence of the great powers, the problem of maritime jurisdictions and the resolution of disputes about them becomes extremely urgent. The factors that spur large states to strive to extend their influence to nearby waters are the desire to extract minerals lying at the bottom of the sea and geostrategic considerations.
In recent years, the South China Sea has become one of the most problematic regions in terms of disputes over maritime jurisdictions.
The subject of territorial disputes in its water area are separate groups of islands, the belonging of which is disputed by six states of the region - China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan.
The leadership of China declares its historical rights to almost the entire territory of the South China Sea, using as the main argument the documents of 1947, on which the state border of China is marked in the form of a "nine-dotted line". This line covers an area of approximately 90% of the entire South China Sea area, including the Scarborough Reef and the Spratly Islands. In fact, the islands in the South China Sea (for example, on the same Spratly archipelago) are under the de facto control of different states. This serves as a rationale for the versions of all conflicting parties.
The main goal that the states parties to the disputes in the South China Sea set themselves is to control the oil reserves in it. According to the state-controlled China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the main Chinese contractor for the development of offshore hydrocarbons, the undeveloped areas of the South China Sea may contain up to 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion. cub. m. of gas, however, these data are not confirmed by independent studies. And although preliminary estimates of oil reserves provided by US specialists (11-28 billion barrels of oil) differ significantly from the figures stated by Chinese researchers (up to 213 billion barrels of oil), all these estimates are very significant and are of particular interest to the countries in the region that experiences a shortage of its own energy resources.
As we can see, there are considerable resources at stake in the South China Sea disputes. This circumstance, in the foreseeable future, makes the region, through which about 25% of world trade passes, extremely “explosive”.
Consequently, it is vitally important for the countries of Southeast Asia to find an effective, and most importantly, a peaceful solution to the problem.
An interesting look at what it might be was offered by the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Pham Minh Chinh, during the aforementioned UN Security Council session. In his opinion, interested countries should create a network of regional mechanisms and initiatives to ensure maritime security, coordinated by the UN. Within the framework of these mechanisms, it would be possible to develop solutions for each specific case, based on agreements between the countries of a particular region, as well as the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982.
The relevance of the Vietnamese Prime Minister's proposal is due to the fact that the mechanism proposed by him perfectly matches the structure of international relations that has already been formed and currently requires harmonization in the form of multipolarity. The emphasis on developing solutions for each specific region, taking into account the views of all its states, and the role of the UN as a coordinator and independent arbiter, is exactly what can work in a multipolar world, where each major region will tend to develop its own unique approaches to solving international problems.
When implementing such a settlement model, the balance between the generally recognized norms of international law and regional specifics will be observed to the fullest extent. That is why, from our point of view, Pham Minh Chinh's proposal deserves attention and wide discussion among interested politicians, as well as specialists in Southeast Asia and the law of the sea.
Political scientist, expert at the Ukrainian Institute of Politics.