Science Offers Peace-building Mechanism in South China Sea Dispute

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Protecting marine environments and ensuring the ocean’s sustainability is a global issue that is vital for all life, and nowhere is this more important than in the South China Sea.

Extending across tropical and semi-tropical zones, this body of water offers an abundant and complex marine ecosystem. However, the territorial claims among China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei in the South China Sea remain a serious threat to the political and ecological security of Southeast Asia. As such, environmental degradation remains at the center of South China Sea scientific policy conversations, and for an increasing number of policy shapers and scientists, there’s an urgent need to address acidification, biodiversity loss, regional impacts of climate change, coral reef destruction, and fishery collapses.

Enter science diplomacy. Defined by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) as science being used to inform foreign policy decisions, promote international scientific collaborations, and establish scientific cooperation to ease tensions between nations, science diplomacy is a widely accepted method that environmental policy planners use to contribute to conflict resolutions and, for several decades, has been adopted as a diplomatic tool for peace-building by many countries. During the Cold War divide, scientific cooperation was used to build bridges of cooperation and trust.

Science diplomacy is not a completely new approach to international relations, and, at the moment, has raised two important questions in efforts to successfully settle the South China Sea dispute, namely: Should we do it? And will it work?

The answer to both is, “yes.”

Science diplomacy helps directly and indirectly promote confidence-building among the parties involved in the South China Sea dispute, offering a much-needed strategic pause in rising regional tensions. The probability that science diplomacy can successfully manage the South China Sea dispute is quite high because of timing, creditability, and the potential for support from major powers. It offers more advantages than not in terms of economics, politics, social responsibility, and beyond. Most importantly, there’s already a rising tide of cooperation in the exchange of data and information, consensus on the value of marine protected areas, and an increase in joint research expeditions.

https://www.geopoliticalmonitor.com/science-offers-peace-building-mechanism-in-south-china-sea-dispute/

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