Environmental Issues in the South China Sea: Legal Obligation and Cooperation Drivers
Tác giả: Nguyễn Chu Hồi và Vũ Hải Đăng
International Journal of Law and Public Administration, Số 1(1) 2018: 8 – 23
Recently, we have been witnessing a critical level of a the degradation of the marine environment and depletion of fish stocks in the South China Sea. This has many adverse consequences on the politics, economics of the countries in the region as well as on the socio-economic life of the coastal population. One of the activities that has been causing serious damage to the marine environment and living resources of the South China Sea is the large-scale land reclamation and artificial island construction undertaken by China in the Spratly and Paracel islands recently. These activities have caused severe harm to the precious coral reef environment and thus, violated the obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species under the international law of the sea
The paper explores the impact of China‟s large-scale land reclamation and artificial island construction activities on the marine biodiversity of the South China Sea, explains what the legal obligation under the international law of States to protect and preserve the marine environment is and suggests a number of options in order to bring a halt to such activities and restore the damaged marine ecosystem. The paper puts particular emphasis on the cooperation drivers torwards a healthy, prosperous and peaceful South China Sea, which also contribute to the management and possibly, resolution of the current disputes in this region.
Some Final Remarks
The SCS, which contains global ecologically and environmentally values, is a survival space of its littoral states. The vulnerable and valuable offshore coral reef systems with special features of the SCS play a critical role in maintaining the marine natural assets for blue growth and livelihoods, and in keeping the ecological and biological connectivity not only in the offshore reef waters, but also in its remaining parts, and even beyond the SCS.
However, the SCS‟s offshore coral reef systems were currently under serious environmental threats from recent large-scale land reclamation and artificial island building activities at a number reef features in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. The South China Sea Award states that these activities have caused permanent and severe harm to the offshore reefs environment and violated the legal obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species after.
To address the above mentioned environmental problems, the science diplomacy with new cooperation drivers and approaches to strengthen the SCS regional cooperation regime and implement the blue initiatives and solutions are priority issues in the future. However, the success of implementing proposed initiatives and solutions depend upon some conditions of which the minimum is the political support from the claimants and littoral states around the SCS, as well as of other states beyond it.
Finally, the way to accelerate effective regional transboundary environmental governance requires the respect of international law, in particular UNCLOS and the South China Sea Award by all relevant partners and stakeholders. That how to achieve, together, „a Blue SCS – a healthy sea, prosperous sea and peaceful sea!‟.
TS Nguyễn Chu Hồi nguyên là Tổng cục phó Tổng cục Biển Đảo Việt Nam và hiện đang là PGS về Khoa học và Chính sách quản trị Biển tại Đại học Quốc gia Hà Nội. TS. Vũ Hải Đăng là một nhà nghiên cứu tại Viện Biển Đông và là giảng viên Khoa Luật quốc tế thuộc Học Viện ngoại giao Việt Nam.
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