South China Sea Issues

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South China Sea Issues

South China Sea in 2013

United States views on international law [1] in relation to South China Sea: On October 10, 2013, at the 2013 East Asia Summit (“EAS”) in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, Secretary Kerry spoke about U.S. policy with respect to the South China Sea. Excerpts from Secretary's remarks appear below. The remarks are available at (Secretary of State website)

Some Aspects of South China Sea

To demonstrate our continued commitment to the region, the United States is increasing its investments in Asia through new programs to support ASEAN's political and economic integration.

Within the EAS, every nation, large and small, has a role to play. Every nation has a voice that should be heard. Each of us also has an obligation to meet the founding principles of this organization: to foster mutual respect for independence and sovereignty; to promote peaceful resolution of disputes and adherence to international law. It is by honoring those principles that we promote predictability and partnership . . . .


A Code of Conduct is a necessity for the long term, but nations can also reduce the risk of miscommunication and miscalculation by taking steps today. All claimants have a responsibility to clarify and align their claims with international law. They can engage in arbitration and other means of peaceful negotiation.

Freedom of navigation and overflight is a linchpin of security in the Pacific. It is a right we all share…the right to safe and unimpeded commerce, freedom of navigation, and respect for international law must be maintained. The rights of all nations, large and small, must be respected.


On October 3, 2013, at the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (“EAMF”), in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Kevin Baumert of the Department of State's Office of the Legal Adviser spoke on behalf of the United States delegation on the subject of “Freedom of navigation, military and law enforcement, as well as other activities in the EEZ.” An excerpt follows from Mr. Baumert's remarks. The remarks are available at (Secretary of State website)


…The well-documented views of the United States on matters such as freedom of navigation and military activities in the [exclusive economic zone] have remained unchanged in the 30 years since the advent of the regime of the EEZ and remain consistent with international law. Our positions are also consistent across the globe. We take a principled and uniform approach, whether in this region of the world or others, whether with allies and friendly neighbors, or with other States.


We would like to take this opportunity to emphasize several points, and also to reflect upon the importance of the EEZ in the Asia-Pacific region.

First, what is the EEZ, and where did it come from? In the long history of the law of the sea, the exclusive economic zone is a relatively recent innovation.



  1. South China Sea in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law

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