How does the discovery of hydrocarbon resources in maritime boundary delimitation zones affect interstate conflict?
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This thesis analyzes how the discovery of hydrocarbon resources in the maritime territories affect interstate conflict based on a paired comparison of: the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the South China Sea conflicts. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, littoral states have to define their exclusive economic zones to use their sovereign rights of exploring and exploiting seabed, subsoil, and natural resources out of their territorial waters. In the existence of an exclusive economic zone, maritime boundary delimitations states’ cannot exercise these rights before solving their ongoing disputes. Despite their structural differences in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the South China Sea maritime boundary delimitations, the existence of abundance hydrocarbon resources intensified the existing conflict. The thesis concludes that states’ relative gain calculations determine their actions. A direct ratio exists between the severity of the conflict and the abundance of resources. The findings of the thesis indicate that hydrocarbon sources affect the states' perception of relative gains when the coastal states' believe that their expected earnings will increase; it is observed that they become more demanding in their territorial claims.
Exclusive economic zone
Maritime boundary delimitation
South China Sea