Balancing the Rights of Coastal States and User States in the Post-UNCLOS Age: Vietnam and Navigational Rights
This chapter examines Vietnam’s position on the rights of coastal states versus the rights of user states as provided in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The first section provides the context and an overview of Vietnam’s participation in the negotiation of UNCLOS as well as its subsequent implementation of the treaty. The second section focuses on navigational rights as an illustrative example of how the country has tried to balance its rights as a coastal state and the rights of other states in its maritime zones. The final section concludes with some observations on how Vietnam has perceived the role of UNCLOS in the international maritime order. The chapter finds evidence that Vietnam has increasingly relied on UNCLOS to regulate the rights of user states in its maritime zones. A careful examination of state’s legislation on navigational rights before and after its ratification of UNCLOS indicates a shift in its policy toward greater support of the treaty. As UNCLOS assumes increasing importance for Vietnam, it could play a major role in shaping the country’s perception of the legal order of the oceans.