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Moving towards Coexistence and Cooperation: The Spratly Islands and International Law

On 19 May 2020, Xuechan Ma defended her thesis 'Moving towards Coexistence and Cooperation: The Spratly Islands and International Law'. The doctoral research was supervised by Prof. N.J. Schrijver.

Xuechan Ma
19 May 2020
Leiden Repository

This thesis investigates the extent to which international law provides a normative framework for the management of the Spratly Islands area in the absence of agreed maritime delimitation, with the aim of maintaining peaceful coexistence of the disputant States and promoting international cooperation. In addition to the introductory and concluding chapters, this thesis consists of two parts: Part I (Coexistence) and Part II (Cooperation). Part I, comprising chapters 2-4, seeks to set out a predictable territorial order and a permissible scope for unilateral behaviours to ensure peaceful coexistence of the disputant States. Part II, including chapters 5-7, outlines international legal frameworks for inter-State cooperation in resource and pollution management concerning the Spratly Islands area. This thesis concludes that the functions of international law in managing this region can be achieved through the interaction between its substantive and procedural elements, despite its limitations resulting from the classic ‘territoriality’ model of jurisdiction. This thesis will hopefully provide a balanced perspective on the roles of international law and advocate a blueprint of cooperation that can be undertaken at a relatively low level of efforts or changes by making use of the existing international instruments or available cooperative mechanisms as much as possible.

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