Maritime Claims, Conflicts and Cooperation in the Gulf of Thailand
The Gulf of Thailand is host to a complex mosaic of maritime claims. These include lengthy and highly questionable straight baseline claims and claims based on alleged historic rights. Physically, the Gulf is a relatively restricted maritime space and this gives rise to a number of potential maritime boundaries. Maximalist unilateral claims to maritime jurisdiction have resulted in extensive areas of overlapping claims.
The Gulf is also characterized by complex coastal geography, including the presence of numerous islands, some of which have been subject to competing sovereignty claims. In consequence there are multiple undelimited maritime boundaries, although some delimitation agreements have been reached. A number of maritime joint development arrangements have also been concluded and there are signs that additional functional mechanisms of this nature are under negotiation.
This article will provide an overview of the geographical and resource context related to the Gulf of Thailand before proceeding to a review and analysis of the baselines, claims to maritime jurisdiction, and related agreements existing in the Gulf. Transboundary fisheries issues and environmental concerns will also be highlighted. Progress in relation to maritime cooperation and management, notably in terms of maritime joint development initiatives, within the Gulf of Thailand will then be considered.
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