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The Spratly islands dispute is a regional maritime territorial sovereignty dispute which involves six countries in the South China Sea – China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Underscored by the prospects of large natural energy reserves, control of strategic global maritime areas, and shifting global power dynamics, the dispute has significant international geo-strategic, economic, political and legal implications. This Honors Thesis evaluates the international legal standards for resolving maritime sovereignty disputes, provides a historiography of the six countries’ competing claims, and analyzes the legal soundness of their claims. This thesis also proposes and examines potential political and diplomatic frameworks as alternative routes for resolving the Spratly islands dispute.


International law; International relations; South China Sea; Sovereignty; Spratly dispute; Spratly Islands


International Law | International Relations

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Reflective Essay