The PCA’s Ruling: Justice has been made!


On Tuesday, July 12th 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Hague issued its long-waited ruling in the South China Sea disputes between the Philippines and China. It rejected China's claim of historic rights within the "Nine-Dash Line". It found that none of the features claimed by China is entitled to a maritime zone of more than 12 nautical miles. It concluded that China violated the Philippines' sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and caused severe harm to the marine environment. The tribunal's findings uphold the need for a rules-based order to counter Chinese efforts to establish a modern-day sphere of influence.
The tribunal ruled that critical aspects of China's South China Sea claims have no basis in law, and hence are invalid. It was an unexpectedly clear judgement against murky Chinese claims, about as dramatic and unambiguous as international law gets. The court ruled that Chinese activities have damaged the marine environment, particularly coral reefs. Finally, China's extensive construction of artificial "islands" has not added additional maritime legal rights onto the features themselves, and has illicitly aggravated and extended disputes over the contested features.
The ruling is a milestone decision in attempt of peacefully settling the South China Sea disputes in accordance with international law. This is the first international ruling for disputes in the South China Sea, creating basis to settle disputes in the sea in accordance with international law, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS). 
One of these important contents is that ruling rejected China's claim of historic rights within the "Nine-Dash Line" based on the Annex VII of the Convention. In reality, China’s unilateral declaration and aggressive enforcement of this “Nine-dash Line” have been encountered by international denouncements.
The ruling is an important legal basis asserting justice and international law, a joint triumph not only for Philippines but for all states as this ruling will help to uphold the defined international legal order. The common interpretation and application of UNCLOS help avoid conflicts from happening. Parties must adjust their actions in complying with the UNCLOS’s provisions.
Article 296 of Unclos and Article 11 of Annex VII of the Convention provide that the Tribunal's decision shall be final and binding and shall be complied with by all parties to the dispute. This is a rule inherent in every judicial dispute-settlement system, including Unclos. There is no exception.
China refuses to be bound by the tribunal’s decision by by insisting that the disputes in question were about sovereignty and not regulated by UNCLOS, or about maritime delimitation issues it chose to exclude from the UNCLOS dispute-settlement system.
China’s argument here is misleading. The tribunal has already indicated that its award will not decide those issues but will only concern itself with other important questions, all of which involve the interpretation and application of UNCLOS and are therefore within the tribunal’s decision-making authority.
China also cannot claim the award is not binding because the arbitration was instituted without its consent. Under Unclos' compulsory dispute-settlement regime, there is no need for the parties to a dispute to give their consent for the dispute to be referred to arbitration or adjudication. Their consent was already given in their ratification of the Convention.
By ratifying the Convention, which requires compulsory dispute settlement and commits all parties to abide by whatever decision results, like it or not, the arbitration tribunal’s decision is legally binding for China. Even China didn't participate in the proceedings, the award still binding for it. Article 9 of Annex VII provides that non-participation of one party would not constitute a bar to the proceedings.
UNCLOS is widely recognized by international community as an important mechanism in preserving “a legal order for the sea”, so all members of the Convention have responsibility on complying and enforcing UNCLOS’s provisions and decisions, including settlement of related disputes.
As that, right after the issue of the PCA ruling, many countries and international organizations assert that the award is legally binding and help create incentives in settling disputes in the South China Sea by peaceful measures. It is appealed that all parties should respect and negotiate the enforcement of the ruling.
However, like many international courts and tribunals, UNCLOS does not have an enforcement mechanism. The lack of an enforcement mechanism does not mean decisions of international courts and tribunals are generally ignored. On the contrary, studies have shown that the vast majority of decisions by international courts and tribunals are implemented. As I mentioned above, given the award addresses many important legal issues concerning disputes on the interpretation and application of UNCLOS and clarifies several legal aspects of the South China Sea disputes that create basis for promoting peace settlement of disputes, the award still matters and has significant implications, even in the absence of compliance from one party.
It’s such a pity that China has refused to recognize and accept the PCA ruling. Failing to comply with the Arbitral Tribunal's decision would damage China's image and reputation in the world arena. China will be seen as a rising power with little respect for international law or "a legal order for the sea".
Non-compliance by one party means the rights of the other party are violated. Non-compliance also creates an obstacle for the parties to move towards settling the underlying disputes in accordance with international law. The South China Sea disputes are a matter of concern for many states. If one party's action is inconsistent with the award, other states and major powers might take measures to challenge the action. That will not be in the interest of China, of peace, stability and security in the region. Many have even argued that China, by denouncing the tribunal’s allegedly improper actions, has become the true defender of international law./.
Chia sẻ bài viết ^^
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All comments [ 10 ]

John Smith 25/7/16 13:27

This 9-dash-line is such an extreme claim! I can understand that China wishes to restrict US naval power in the area.

LawrenceSamuels 25/7/16 13:28

Claiming you own something and owning it are two different things. China does not have an internationally recognized lien on the Spratly Islands.

Gentle Moon 25/7/16 13:29

The fact is China had no interest and was unable to project power to the region until recently when oil exploration discovered what may be a large oil field under the waves.
This isn't about the Spratly Islands its about the oil.

yobro yobro 25/7/16 13:29

China has built up its navy and oil ocean going rigs on speculation they can seize the islands. But that still isn't a legitimate claim they just don't want to be bothered by international maritime law.

Jane smartnic 25/7/16 13:31

""The islands in the South China Sea have been Chinese territories since ancient times,” he said, according to state media." Even if this was true this is an absurd almost comical claim to make in the 'modern age,' especially in this age of globalization.

Love Peace 25/7/16 13:32

I am wondering why there is not any mention of Taiwan's protest against of this tribunal, by Ms Cai Yinwen's office. Ms Cai is even a pro-Japan and pro-US leader.

MaskOf Zero 25/7/16 13:34

This sets legal precedent for all Southeast Asian countries with legitimate claims to the Paracels, Spratlys, and other islets and maritime territory in the area--i.e. not China (in either its People's Republic or Republic forms). Now Southeast Asians have a stronger foundation to work on in the judicial arena.

Only Solidar 25/7/16 13:34

No one took China's ridiculous claims seriously, and it's heartening that it is now official.

Pack Cassiopian 25/7/16 13:35

Guilty, China is making serious trouble in that entire region, because is can. Building military bases on "man-made islands", is an admission of guilt. It is not so much "claiming" this "territory", but, just taking it!

Deck Hero14 25/7/16 13:37

Just out of curiosity- have any of you seen the " 9 dash line". It is beyond silly and should have been stopped at the first mention.
I'm surprised the Chinese did not try to get Australia.

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