South China Sea arbitration to have negative impact on international rule of law: experts

Source:People's Daily Published: 2016/7/11 16:47:59

Some 30 international law experts gathered at Hague on Sunday for a seminar in which many have voiced their doubts and concerns over the negative impact that the South China Sea arbitration will bring to the rule of law at the international level.

Hu Dekun, dean of Wuhan University's China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies, told the People’s Daily that experts focused on whether the tribunal’s interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) is impartial and comprehensive and if other valid interpretations from different perspectives are possible. Attending experts agreed that the tribunal’s interpretation cannot represent the common opinion of the international law community.

According to Yi Xianhe, chief researcher at the Institute of International Law of Wuhan University, experts attending the seminar hold that the arbitration violates the principles of various international laws.

The tribunal failed to correctly identify and verify the disputes between China and the Philippines and the formation of the court cannot represent major existing legal systems, Yi pointed out.

“The Philippines covers all the expense of the court and the process procedure has been going really fast,” Yi explained, adding that the verdict on the jurisdiction lacks a complete understanding of China’s views and necessary legal analysis.

“Some arbitrators even changed their stances without any explanation, which violates the principle of consistency,” Yi said, stressing that all these give the legal circle reasons to worry about the negative impact of the case.

Hu noted that the experts agreed on the following issues: First, the South China Sea arbitration is one-sided and the tribunal has no jurisdiction over territorial and maritime delimitation issues between China and the Philippines.
Moreover, unilaterally filed arbitration is illegal. The Philippines has deliberately ignored China’s statement of optional exception under Article 298 of the UNCLOS in 2006, breaking the consensus reached between both sides that to solve the maritime dispute through negotiation.

"This is a precedent that we cannot set,” Hu emphasized. “In addition, from the historical perspective, islands in the South China Sea have been part of China’s territory since ancient times. The arbitration submitted by the Philippines shows no respect to historical facts."

The seminar was co-organized by Wuhan University's China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies and Leiden University's Grotius Center for International Legal Studies, which attracted international maritime law experts from Asia, Africa, the US and Europe.

Chinese experts attending the event are from Wuhan University, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Xiamen University and some other renowned institutions. Foreign experts include Sreenivasa Rao Pemmaraju, former chairman of the UN International Law Commission, Judge of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and chief legal adviser in India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abdul Koroma, former ICJ judge and Tom Zwart, law professor at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

Posted in: Viewpoint, Asian Review, South China Sea Focus

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