Topic Background The Spratly Islands are a group of more than 100 small islands, reefs, shoals, and atolls. The Islands are split into twelve groups: North Danger Cays; Thltu Island and Reefs; West York Island (Likas); Loita and Reefs; Irving Cay (Balaga); Nanshan Island (Lawak); Tlzard Bank and Reefs; Union Bank and Reefs; Spratly Island including Fiery Cross and Cuarten Reef; the Marivales Reef including Swalow Reed; Commodore Reef; and Amboyana Cay. The group of islands is located north of Malaysia and sits roughly between Viet Nam and the Philippines. The Spratlys will play a large part in the economic success to whichever countries acquire the islands. The Spratly Islands are predicted to hold approximately 17.7 billion tons of oil and natural gas reserves. They are also home to a diverse group of fish making the islands a hotspot for fishermen. The South China Sea stands in the middle of developed trade routes with about 50% of global merchant traffic passing through the waters. The Spratly Islands are desired for their abundance of natural resources and growing economic potential. There are 5 main methods of territorial acquisition recognized under international law. Accretion, Cession, Conquest, Prescription, and Discovery-occupation have all been historically accepted. Accretion is the physical expansion of existing territory and borders. Cession is the voluntary transfer of territory from one nation to another. Conquest is the acquisition of some or all of another state’s territory after defeat in war by way of force. However this in no longer a valid method of territorial acquisition. Prescription is the acquisition of territory by actual exercise of sovereignty, maintained for a reasonable amount of time, without objection from the original state. Discovery-occupation is the most accepted form of acquisition over terra nullius. The Claimant must demonstrate effective occupation over the territory. II. Past International ActionThe Spratly Islands are claimed, in whole or in part by several of the surrounding countries. People’s Republic of China, Republic of China, Viet Nam, Philippine, Brunei, and Malaysia have all made territorial claims to the region. In 1917, the Japanese began exploring the Spratlys. Parallel to the discovery of phosphate on multiple islets, establishments were constructed. In 1939, Japan announced annexation of the Spratly Islands and throughout World War II Japan occupied the Spratlys. Japan relinquished control of the Spratly islands with the signing of the San Francisco treaty in 1951. The Republic of China made their first claim in the 15th century, however, chinese fishermen had fished near the islands since 200 BC. It was not until 1947 that China begun to have a presence in the region. The Nine-dash line was published in 1947, this map outlined the ‘official’ claims that China made. Since that point they have built a military and commercial presence throughout the islands by increasing fishing and shipping traffic, and building various structures. After the Chinese Civil War, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China maintained identical claims to region. The Chinese governments have since been adding to the archipelago, creating seven new islets. The Philippine claims began after the signing of the San Francisco Treaty. The treaty failed to specify a beneficiary of the islands and therefore the Spratlys can be annexed by anyone. In 1956, a private citizen, Tomas Cloma, occupied 53 islands and reefs in the Spratly Islands. Cloma occupied the islands under ‘discovery-occupation’. In 1978, Cloma sold his claim to the Philippine government. The Philippine government claims that the Spratly Islands are included in their exclusive economic zone.Other countries have made less prominent claims. Territorial claims from Vietnam began in 1951 by announcing that some of the islands have ‘always belonged to Viet Nam’. The islands were shown as Viet Nam territory on the first Vietnamese map in 1834. Viet Nam declared that their territorial waters of its exclusive economic zone includes the islands. Brunei and Malaysia have made very similar, small claims of the Spratly Islands. Brunei has declared that the Louisa reef is part of their continental shelf. Malaysia also made a claim based on their continental shelf in 1979 which originally included the Louisa reef. However, Malaysia has since dropped that part of the claim. III. Position I believe the Court’s decision must reflect the complexity of the situation at hand. The resolution adopted at the 71st meeting of the general assembly requests an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice that addresses a series of questions. The first step in formulating an advisory opinion is to determine which nations have rightful claims to the Spratly Islands. As a court, we must also consider the how pre-existing international laws apply to the dispute; certain laws contradict each other causing chaos. A big part in this case is determining if the Spratly islands can be divided up or if they should remain a single entity; certain nations are only claiming small portions of the archipelago. It is vital the court’s conclusion stand the test of time throughout any and all territorial change, for example: artificial additions, sumberging or ascending islands, volcanic eruptions, ect. It is important to strictly define the term terra nullius as many states made claims based on this principle. Terra nullius is a latin expression that translates “no man’s land”, used in international law to describe certain territories. The Philippines and Viet Nam agree that although China claimed the Spratlys, they did not exercise effective occupation.