Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor

Steve Chan

Second Advisor

Jaroslav Tir

Third Advisor

Krister Andersson

Fourth Advisor

Thomas Zeiler

Fifth Advisor

Michael Chase


To explore potential policy opportunities for managing the disputes of the South China Sea and the Arctic, this multi-method research combines quantitative and qualitative analysis of the population of all modern maritime disputes (since 1900). This inquiry engages multivariate analysis of a unique data set and comparative case studies in order to examine how different factors (of both the disputed areas and the claimant nation-states) can explain dispute duration, escalation, and resolution. While extant literature treats maritime disputes as the unexplained error term of territorial conflict, this project argues that there are three distinct types of maritime disputes and that each type follows its own pattern of behavior – as predicted by specific economic and political factors. This work not only contributes to theoretical understandings of how states resolve territorial disputes, but also sheds light on specific ways that China and Russia challenge legal and practical models of state behavior – and what can be done about those states’ actions while protecting the maritime environment.