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This text covers a range of controversial issues rife with potential for provoking military confrontation in the world's salt water areas. Understanding the factual setting for flashpoints in the oceans requires an appreciation of the geographic circumstances of the disputants. This work starts with a global overview of island disputes provided by two geographers. They examine the pivotal relationship between sovereignty claims to islands and delimitation of ocean boundaries throughout the world.;The most serious and complicated series of island disputes exists in the South China Sea where multiple national claims are asserted to sovereignty over the Spratly and Paracel Islands. This work gives not only an update on the status of the informal negotiations but also an insider's account of the unresolved issues. A suggestion is made for a constructive step toward a peaceful solution by outlining a Spratly Resource Development Agency.;The work is based on a conference jointly sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Oceans Law and Policy and the Center for National Security Law, University of Virginia School of Law.