A Scan of Critical World Developments
Navigating Toward a Global Commons
A recent ruling by the International Criminal Court in The Hague has clarified the murky lines of sovereignty on the high seas. The case was prompted by China’s recent expansion into the South China Sea, one of the most heavily traveled waterways in the world, through steps like the construction of artificial islands. China argues that it holds historic rights to the Sea, but abutting nations like the Philippines, Vietnam, and Indonesia begged to differ. So did the court, which denied China’s territorial claims, finding that it has caused “irreparable harm” to the marine environment and interfered with Philippine commerce. While certain to help the smaller nations in negotiations about resources and rights of passage, the decision is not legally binding or enforceable. The ruling thus reasserts the legitimacy of supranational governance, yet reminds us of its weakness in a volatile world where competition over dwindling resources intensifies.