Asia Policy 16 (3):105-132 (2021)

H. Nguyen
Northwestern University
Quan-Hoang Vuong
Phenikaa University
Although most Asian states are signatories to UNCLOS, which offers options for dispute resolution by either voluntary or compulsory processes, in reality fewer than a dozen Asian states have taken advantage of such an approach. The decision to adopt third-party mechanisms comes under great scrutiny and deliberation, not least because of the entailing legal procedures and the politically sensitive nature of disputes. Vietnam claims the second-largest maritime area in the South China Sea dispute after China. A comparison of two recent cases—the arbitration between the Philippines and China and the conciliation between Timor-Leste and Australia—highlights the importance of selecting between binding and nonbinding decisions and framing a complaint. In particular, any legal action under UNCLOS should specify China’s claims and actions in areas that encroach on Vietnam’s claimed exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and violate international law.
Keywords Sino-Vietnamese relations  South China Sea  UNCLOS 1982
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