Spotlight: Philippine-initiated arbitration on South China Sea undermines international law

July 6, 2016/ Xinhua.net

BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhua) — The Philippine-initiated arbitration on the South China Sea issue is but a political farce under “legal” pretexts aiming to fake “a new reality,” which provokes both principles of international law and order, said an article published in a renowned Chinese biweekly magazine.

The article, which appeared in the latest edition of the biweekly Qiushi, said the arbitration is believed to endanger the foundation of the existing international law and order by defying basic respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and voluntary choice by sovereign states, as it seeks maritime jurisdiction overriding national sovereignty and other international laws.

China rejects the arbitration for its failure to conform with international law, said the article carried by the magazine, one of the publications of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

The magazine’s comment is made prior to an arbitral tribunal ruling due on July 12, reiterating the Chinese government’s stance of no-acceptance of and non-participation in the arbitration.

It also reaffirmed China’s insistence on its sovereignty and rights in the South China Sea based on historical facts and legal principles.

The Philippines unilaterally initiated the compulsory arbitration proceedings of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in January 2013, prompting a five-member arbitral tribunal presided over by a former Japanese diplomat.

However, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea obliges peaceful solution of disputes in an agreed way out of voluntary choice, and encourages comparison of notes on differences over its application before seeking a third-party intervention.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has no jurisdiction over territorial claims and allows delimitations, including maritime demarcation.

The article criticized the arbitral tribunal for overstepping its jurisdiction and abusing the UN sea convention to consider the Philippine submissions.

The tribunal has chosen to ignore Manila’s obligation to a negotiated solution under bilateral deals and the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea by China and all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and to defy the delimitations China has made to the UN sea convention.

The moves amount to a de facto nullification of convention members’ self-choice rights and the delimitations so far made by some 30 members, undermining the integrity of the convention’s dispute settlement mechanism. Read more…

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