Resolution of potentially dangerous maritime disputes requires refocusing on UNCLOS regime, including getting remaining holdouts to ratify
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What appears most lacking in all of these situations is a perception by the larger world communi- ty that disputes like these pose a significant threat to international peace and stability. Were these dis- putes occurring on land, one suspects, world lead- ers would pay much closer attention to the risks involved and take urgent steps to avoid military action and escalation. But because they are taking place at sea, away from population centers and the media, they seem to have attracted less concern.
This is a dangerous misreading of the perils involved: Because the parties to these disputes ap- pear more inclined to employ military force than they might elsewhere, and boundaries are harder to define, the risk of miscalculation is greater, and so is the potential for violent confrontation. The risks can only grow as the world becomes more reliant on offshore energy and coastal states become less willing to surrender maritime claims.
To prevent the outbreak of serious conflict, the international community must acknowledge the seriousness of these disputes and call on all parties involved to solve them through peaceful means, as quickly as possible. This could occur through resolutions by the UN Security Council, or state- ments by leaders meeting in such forums as the Group of 20 governments. Such declarations need not specify the precise nature of any particular outcome, but rather must articulate a consensus view that a resolution of some sort is essential for the common good. Arbitration by neutral, inter- nationally respected “elders” can be provided as necessary. To facilitate this process, ambiguities in UNCLOS should be resolved and holdouts from the treaty—including the United States—should be encouraged to sign.
"The Growing Threat of Maritime Conflict
." Current History
. Vol. 112, No. 750 (January 2013): 26-32. [ More (4 quotes) ]