Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Living Edition
| Editors: Michael Kocsis

The Spratly Islands and Territorial Rights

Living reference work entry



The Spratly Islands area (Fig. 1) is located between 11°30′ to 4° N and 109°30′ to 117°50′ E and spreads out over a vast area of ocean measuring 240,000 km2, roughly equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom (UK) (Dzurek 1996). It is clustered in a semiclosed sea, namely the South China Sea, in the shape of a parallelogram between the Philippine island of Palawan and the southeast coast of Vietnam (Denoon and Brams 1997). There are at least 19 islands (above water at high tides) within the meaning of Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) that can undoubtedly be acquired as territory under international law, as confirmed in the 2016 South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China) award (PCA 2016). These islands are Itu Aba Island, Thitu Island, West York...
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grotius Center for International Legal StudiesLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin W. Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoTorontoCanada