Welcome to THE BEACON.

This website was launched over two years ago with the aim of presenting articles on international topics that were topical and interesting but also factual and reliable in their content. THE BEACON is intended to be a valuable asset to anyone seeking a balanced view of on international issues, recent international events and international institutions. Several years on in time, these aims and intentions remain true to THE BEACON’s purpose.

What has slightly changed since the launch of THE BEACON is the intended content. It was originally envisioned that this site would cover a multitude of international subjects including the environment and international finance. Due to informative and thorough coverage elsewhere, these subjects are not covered here. At the same time, the diversity of articles found on THE BEACON is large. The majority of articles appearing on this website are written by experts in their field of work. The subjects currently found on THE BEACON include child soldiers, the role of community-based Afghan tribes in forging a peace in Afghanistan, abolishing the use of certain cluster munitions, piracy on the high seas, the illegal use of torture and other abuses under President George W. Bush, conflicts surrounding Africa’s natural resources, Israeli conflicts with Palestine and with Lebanon, plus viewing terrorism through the human rights lens. Future articles will be on the use of sexual violence in armed conflicts, changes to U.S. military trials, reviewing the Charter of the United Nations along with any other relevant and timely topics.

It is noted that several articles found on THE BEACON were written more than three years ago. They continue on the current ARTICLE list because their content remains relevant today. We continue to expand the BOOKS section and the VIDEOS section. A new tab, ART, appears for the first time as an added facet of international issues. Please send us any recommendations you may have for any of these three sections. The extensive LINKS section is checked regularly to ensure each link is working although a 100% success rate can be elusive.

Finally, we very much hope that you continue to visit THE BEACON for reliable information and recommendations. We are here solely to present information and clarify issues for everyone who has the curiosity and desire to learn more about the world.

  • The View From Here

    5 November 2015


    Several days ago I returned from a trip to Shanghai, China. While I was there, the breaking news was that an American ship, initially reported as an aircraft carrier, was sailing within 12 nautical miles of the Subi Reef, a reef in the Spratly Archipelago in the South China Sea which is close to the Philippines. The action of the United States was reported as “threatening the sovereignty and safety of China and its people.” Not being able to speak or understand Mandarin, I watched the English news channel, CNN. The strong Chinese rhetoric about the United States’ aggression against China was repeated every day I was there. The newscasters always made mention of the U.S. government’s position that under international law it had a right to sail in the South China Sea waters. What the international law was or how it was applied was never discussed by the Chinese commentators.

    Some days there were interviews with different individuals from other countries including Russia and Iran who denounced the actions and continued presence of the U.S. naval ship. The deputy editor of China Daily USA, Chen Weihua, wrote that the actions by the U.S. were not just bullying but also ill-advised. He wrote that such actions were “only propelling China to speed up its military modernization so it can’t be coerced by others militarily.” His view was, “Washington has been skillful in using international law as a pretext because it only applies the law to others, not itself.” After several days, I found myself wondering why the United States decided to sail a warship so close to the China coast. What business did it have there? What was the U.S. government thinking of?

    During my last day in Shanghai, the specific facts of the situation became clear when I tracked down a Western newspaper, the International New York Times. I finally realized that there was a conflict between China and other Asian countries as to who had the right to own and/or control certain parts of the South China Sea. Over the past decade, China has been creatively building a number of artificial islands over different reefs and other protruding rocks. Some of the artificial islands have military capabilities. It is over these artificial land masses that China has laid claim of certain rights such as fishing, trade, oil and gas rights within the 12-mile territorial zone surrounding each island. This is contrary to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea where it specifically states that any reef or other rock protuberance that is invisible except at low tide is not entitled to a 12-mile territorial zone. China has signed this treaty, agreeing to follow its international regulations.

    According to the International New York Times, China currently asserts sovereignty over 90% of the South China Sea through its use of artificial islands and other means. It is in response to the Chinese warnings over the past several years made to planes and ships not to enter the Chinese security areas that the U.S. government came up with the plan to sail one of its ships in what it considers to be international waters. The action by the United States is the strongest indication to date that it will not allow China to assert any territorial ownership or rights where these do not exist.

    Last Friday, 30th October 2015, the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague published its decision that it had jurisdiction over a case brought by the Philippines against China disputing Chinese ownership and control of the South China Sea. The Court of Arbitration rejected the Chinese government’s claims that the disputes in the South China Sea were about China’s territorial sovereignty based on indisputable historical rights. After a confrontation with the Filipino Navy in 2012, China erected a barrier across the entrance of the Scarborough Shoal thus taking control of the rich fishing area lying within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone. Under the Convention of the Law of the Sea, article 56 defines this zone as where the coastal state has sovereign rights for the purpose of inter alia exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources of the waters superadjacent to the seabed up to 200 nautical miles from the coastal boundary. It is hoped that the Arbitration Court can finally address what has been happening in the South China Sea and come up with a viable solution which is fair to all the affected Asian countries.

    The End

  • Categories