To determine why ASEAN failed to reach consensus required answering four interrelated questions. First, what is the strategic importance of the South China Sea? The importance of the South China Sea lies both in its resource potential and its location on a major sea lane. Second, what documents provide jurisdiction over actions inside the South China Sea? The assertion of claims in the South China Sea is governed by the provisions of the UN Law of the Sea treaty and a declaration of principles by ASEAN. Third, what are the claims of the individual nations involved in the dispute? The claims advanced by various regional nations rely not only on the treaty provisions but also self-identified national interests and historical claims. Lastly, what prevents the nations from achieving a common solution? The last question could only be answered by using international relations theories concerning the behavior of groups. After application of these theories, it became clear that the reason ASEAN cannot provide a common solution is that no nation involved in the dispute desires one.