Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


Wei Cui

First Page



The Spratlys are a scattered group of islands in the South China Sea over which China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei have made conflicting jurisdictional claims. Although there has been significant academic discussion of this dispute, the Author argues that much of it is hampered by a discourse obsessed with the regional balance of power and security-related strategies that are only tenuously related to each nation's specific legal claims in the Spratlys. In this Article, the Author suggests that a more productive approach to the Spratly disputes is one focused on finding a solution that is "fair" to all the parties. The Article then examines several distinct substantive notions of fairness potentially applicable to the Spratly disputes and applies these reforms to various existing proposed solutions, ultimately rejecting proposals that call for an allocation of rights in the Spratlys. Finally, the Author proposes that a multilateral management authority might satisfy each party's interest in fairness, at least in terms of participation in the ongoing process of allocation.