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Associational balance of power and the possibilities for international law in the South China Sea


McGee, J and Gogarty, B and Smith, D, Associational balance of power and the possibilities for international law in the South China Sea, Asia-Pacific Journal of Ocean Law and Policy, 2, (1) pp. 88-116. ISSN 2451-9367 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2017

DOI: doi:10.1163/24519391-00201006


Recent territorial disputes in the South China Sea (SCS) have been viewed as a proxy for wider geopolitical tension between the United States and China. Realist commentators therefore argue that power will be the key driver of outcomes and the likely role of international law is peripheral. Mainstream international law scholarship is ill-equipped to respond to such criticism as it largely marginalises the relationship between law and power. However, some leading historical figures in International Law and International Relations have long argued that an ‘associational balance of power’ between states is an essential pre-condition for the effective operation of international law. We argue that re-enlivening this focus on ‘associational balance of power’ offers new insights into the possibilities for international law in the SCS. We therefore recommend an interdisciplinary research program across the fields of International Law and Strategic Studies aimed at facilitating rule-based resolution of disputes in the SCS.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:South China Sea, territorial claims, international law, balance of power
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:International and comparative law
Research Field:International criminal law
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:International relations
Objective Field:Defence and security policy
UTAS Author:McGee, J (Associate Professor Jeffrey McGee)
UTAS Author:Gogarty, B (Dr Brendan Gogarty)
UTAS Author:Smith, D (Ms Smith)
ID Code:114478
Year Published:2017
Deposited By:Office of the Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2017-02-16
Last Modified:2019-02-15
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