A major part of the South China Sea / West Philippine Sea dispute stems from misunderstandings on the definitions of maritime features. These features, as stated in the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS), determine the extent of Territorial Seas and Exclusive Economic Zones. It follows that countries who ratified the convention are bound by the agreement. It is unfortunate that although shoals, rocks, reefs, islands, and low tide elevations are reported in the press, why they are relevant allude us. Therefore, it is essential that we understand what they are and how they affect the sovereignty and rights of the countries they belong to.
Published March 5, 2014