Russian Response: a Tit for Tat

By Sean Assad

In response to the prospect of increased economic sanctions from the US, Russia has ordered the US to cut their diplomatic staff by 755. In addition, Russia has said that it will block access to two American diplomatic properties: a warehouse in Moscow and a bucolic picnic ground along the Moscow River. If this sounds somewhat familiar, it is as the US had seized two of Russia’s diplomatic properties in the US last year and 35 Russian diplomats to leave the US. Although, a big difference is that the properties the US seized were used for intelligence gathering, while the properties Russia is threatening to seize are merely recreational. The latest moves in response to the sanctions allows for a discussion to be had on the concept of state sovereignty, diplomatic immunity, and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. Read more ›

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Another Country joins the fray in the South China Sea

By Sean Assad

The South China Sea is an important and strategic area as well as one of the most tense areas of the world. It sees $5 trillion in shipborne trade every year, and also has major fishing and energy resources. China claims most of this territory despite parts of the the sea being claimed by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, which has led to intense territorial disputes. These disputes garnered intense international attention in 2016 when the a decision was made in the Philippines’ 2013 case against China by the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). China had claimed historic rights to the territory but they were only valid if they accorded with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement of which China is a party. The PCA found that there was “no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the nine dash line” because the UNCLOS takes precedence over historic rights. China had refused to recognize the ruling at that time and they continue to operate in the South China Sea.

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