South China Sea is classified as asemi-enclosed sea (Bateman, 2009, p. 16) and the states bordering it, accordingto the Article 123 of UNCLOS, should cooperate in areas of resource management,protection of marine environment and marine scientific research. These areasare labelled as non-traditional (Wu & Zou, 2009) and concerns the countriesnear South China Sea such as Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, thePhilippines, Vietnam and even Singapore. Sam Bateman (2009), in his study aboutgood order at sea in South China Sea, checked the status of ratification of conventionsrelated to these non-traditional areas and patterned from the framework ofUNCLOS.
He found out that there are still gaps in conventions’ level ofratification. According to him, only Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention,which specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment, and operationof ships, compatible with their safety and security, and InternationalConvention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ship or MARPOL Convention,which details the obligation of countries under UNCLOS regarding the preventionof pollution in the marine environment by ships through the discharge ofharmful substances or effluents, are ratified by all bordering countries. Onthe other hand, Bateman (2009) found out that the 1979 Search and Rescue (SAR)Convention, which obliges countries to provide SAR services to persons who arein need and around their coasts, and Convention for the Suppression of UnlawfulActs against the Safety of Navigation or SUA Convention, which deals withterrorism at sea and allows jurisdiction of a country in an adjacentterritorial sea of another country, are not ratified by all concernedcountries. SAR Convention is not ratified by Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia andthe Philippines while SUA Convention is not ratified fully by all of theconcerned countries. This shows how the countries respond to the internationalcommunity’s call for better maritime security in South China Sea (Wu & Zou,2009). It is obvious that not all parties concerned are working together enoughto solve non-traditional security issues — something that is contrary to theArticle 123 of UNCLOS. Without domestic legislation or ratification, these soundconventions would not be effective and it will be bad for the maritime securityin the disputed territory (Bateman, 2009).
Even though with the existence of2002 Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, one cannotassure that there will be a good order at the disputed territory because thisdeclaration is just a political document and has no legal binding force (Wu& Zou 2009; Bateman, 2009).