The Security Council at GrunnMUN 2019
The Conflict in the South China Sea
The South China Sea is among the world’s epicentres of geopolitical competition. 30 percent of all global trade passes through the waterway each year. China and its East Asian neighbours, including Indonesia, Japan, The Philippines, and Vietnam all have territorial claims, and have established maritime defences in the area. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) decided that states can only control waters within 370 km off their coasts, referred to as Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). In cases zones overlap, which frequently occurs, neighbouring states need to decide on maritime borders themselves. The convention also states that areas that are not covered by EEZ’s should be treated as international waters, shared by every country in the world and freely accessible to them.
China’s territorial Sea claims span 1,600 km of water, which they outline with a Nine-Dash Line on government issued maps, and justify on a historical basis. It claims overlap with EEZ’s of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei and has lead to various disputes. The US however, regards the South China Sea as international waters, and wants it to be “free” for navigation under UN maritime law. Yearly, about $1.2 trillion of US-traded goods pass through this route. These tensions in the South China Sea have already pushed the countries involved to confrontation several times.
The international community has been vigorously trying to establish a diplomatic solution. At GrunnMUN, Delegates are expected to implement plans for long-term strategic stability in the region, focusing especially on the relationship between the US and China.
The Security Council is, alongside the General Assembly, on of the principal organs of the United Nations and is accorded its primary responsibility of upholding international peace and security by The Charter of the United Nations, which obligates all of its member states to settle their disputes in a peaceful manner.The Security Council is made up of 15-member states, which includes five permanent members; France, China, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, that possess veto power and another ten non-permanent countries elected by the General Assembly that serve a two-year term.
The Security Council convenes upon request by a member state in response to developing challenges to international peace and security and its decisions have to be carried out by all member states as stated under the UN Charter. The Security Council has advanced the use of non-military measures in order to reach peaceful settlements, including use of arms embargoes, economic sanctions, and protection of natural resources. The Council can also send a peacekeeping mission in case the dispute under discussion erupts into an armed conflict. They can also authorize the use of military force in dire situations.