Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Vietnam: New National Law Intensifies International Dispute

(July 19, 2012) Amid escalating tension in the dispute over the East Sea (also known as the South China Sea), Vietnam approved a national Law on the Sea, which was officially announced by the President of Vietnam on July 16, 2012. (Vietnam Officially Announces Law of the Sea, TUOITRENEWS, (July 16, 2012); Q&A: South China Sea Dispute, BBC NEWS (June 27, 2012).)

According to the Deputy Foreign Minister of Vietnam, the national Law on the Sea demonstrates Vietnam's consistent policy of settling disputes in the East Sea. Vietnam will peacefully and amicably resolve the disputes in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982: Overview and Full Text, Oceans and Law of the Sea [United Nations] website (last updated Nov. 9, 2011)) and relevant international laws and practices, the official stated. He added that Vietnam will manage and protect its national sea and islands in compliance with Vietnamese law, the United Nations charter, and other treaties of which Vietnam is a member. (Press Release, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam (June 21, 2012).)

The new Law includes seven chapters and 55 articles, regulating the baseline, internal waters, territorial waters, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone, continental shelf, archipelagoes, and islands that belong to Vietnam and fall under its sovereign and jurisdictional rights. (Vietnam Announces National Law on the Sea, TALK VIETNAM (July 16, 2012).) The Law explicitly refers to the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagos in its article 1, asserting Vietnam's sovereignty over those two archipelagos. According to Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the country has sufficient legal basis and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the archipelagos. (Statement of the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, (June 21, 2012).)

The new Law will be effective as of January 1, 2013, notwithstanding the protest of China. (Tension Mounts Between Vietnam, China, Voice of America website (June 28, 2012).)

Prepared by Loi Huynh, Law Library Intern, under the supervision of Sayuri Umeda, Senior Foreign Law Specialist.