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The South China Sea Award, Artificial Islands and Territory

The South China Sea Award, Artificial Islands and Territory The South China Sea Award, Artificial Islands and Territory Imogen Saunders I. Introduction Although artificial island building is a centuries-old practice, international law has remained relatively silent on the status of artificial islands. While much remains unsettled, two things are clear from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (‘UNCLOS’): artificial islands cannot generate a territorial sea of their own; and cannot satisfy the ‘naturally formed’ requirement to be a ‘true’ island in the sense of art 121. Apart from these two strictures, there is little legal guidance to be found in UNCLOS. In the context of this near-vacuum, the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal in the matter of the South China Sea Arbitration was asked to adjudicate on some of China’s island building activities in the South China Sea. There are many different ways of constructing artificial islands—from ‘floating 5 6 islands’ to artificial structures resting on the sea bed. However the most common construction of artificial islands, and the most pertinent to the South China Sea, are those artificial islands made by modifying existing low-tide elevations (LTEs). An LTE is ‘a naturally formed area of land which is surrounded by and above water at low tide http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Australian Year Book of International Law Online Brill

The South China Sea Award, Artificial Islands and Territory

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
Copyright © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0084-7658
DOI
10.1163/26660229-034-01-900000004
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The South China Sea Award, Artificial Islands and Territory Imogen Saunders I. Introduction Although artificial island building is a centuries-old practice, international law has remained relatively silent on the status of artificial islands. While much remains unsettled, two things are clear from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (‘UNCLOS’): artificial islands cannot generate a territorial sea of their own; and cannot satisfy the ‘naturally formed’ requirement to be a ‘true’ island in the sense of art 121. Apart from these two strictures, there is little legal guidance to be found in UNCLOS. In the context of this near-vacuum, the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal in the matter of the South China Sea Arbitration was asked to adjudicate on some of China’s island building activities in the South China Sea. There are many different ways of constructing artificial islands—from ‘floating 5 6 islands’ to artificial structures resting on the sea bed. However the most common construction of artificial islands, and the most pertinent to the South China Sea, are those artificial islands made by modifying existing low-tide elevations (LTEs). An LTE is ‘a naturally formed area of land which is surrounded by and above water at low tide

Journal

The Australian Year Book of International Law OnlineBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2017

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