CSIS’s expert working group on the South China Sea, which was launched in mid-2017, brings together prominent experts on maritime law, international relations, and the marine environment. The members seek consensus on realistic, actionable steps that claimant states and interested parties could take to boost cooperation and manage tensions at sea. The group has met three times since launching to tackle issues that it considers necessary for the successful management of the South China Sea disputes and produce blueprints for a path forward on each. The members believe the three proposed agreements below add up to a robust model for managing the South China Sea disputes, one which would be both legally and politically feasible for all parties. The agreements are published here in the expert working group’s first report, Defusing the South China Sea Disputes: A Regional Blueprint.

The working group is chaired by AMTI director Gregory Poling and includes a diverse set of experts from claimant states and interested countries, including the United States. All members take part in their personal capacities, not as representatives of their home institutions. They are invited to join the group based on their subject matter expertise and ability to reach creative compromises with other members. The group’s membership will continue to expand as it tackles additional topics necessary for the management of the South China Sea disputes.


Defusing the South China Sea Disputes: A Regional Blueprint (full PDF download)

Individual blueprints:

A Blueprint for a South China Sea Code of Conduct
A Blueprint for Fisheries Management and Environmental Cooperation in the South China Sea
A Blueprint for Cooperation on Oil and Gas Production in the South China Sea


Jay Batongbacal, University of the Philippines
Zack Cooper, American Enterprise Institute
Tara Davenport, National University of Singapore
Donald Emmerson, Stanford University
Matthew Funaiole, CSIS
Bonnie Glaser, CSIS
Michael Green, CSIS
Brian Harding, CSIS
Bill Hayton, Chatham House
Murray Hiebert, CSIS
Christopher Johnson, CSIS
Isaac Kardon, U.S. Naval War College
Carmen Ablan Lagman, De La Salle University
Evan Laksmana, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Indonesia
Joseph Chinyong Liow, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies
RADM (Ret.) Michael McDevitt, Center for Naval Analyses
John McManus, University of Miami
Elina Noor, Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies
Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat
Gregory Poling, CSIS
Clive Schofield, World Maritime University
Amy Searight, CSIS
Rashid Sumaila, University of British Columbia
Vo Si Tuan, Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology
Tran Truong Thuy, Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam
Chi-ting Tsai, National Taiwan University

Prominent experts from China also participated in the working group and provided valuable input, though ultimately none were comfortable being listed as members.

Header photo: Tryfonov/Adobe Stock