Philippines Wins  South China Sea Arbitration by Lolita Farmer OAM

Philippines Wins South China Sea Arbitration by Lolita Farmer OAM

A big legal win by the Philippines as the Permanent Court of Arbitration, Hague Netherlands unanimously delivered its Award on 12 July 2016, on the matter The South China Sea Arbitration, The Republic of the Philippines V. The People’s Republic of China.. The Tribunal was constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea the “Convention”)
The Philippines sought the arbitration against China on the issues of “the role of historic rights and the source of maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, the status of some maritime features and maritime entitlements they are capable of generating, and the lawfulness of certain actions by China that were alleged by the Philippines to violate the Convention.”
• The nine-dash-line claim: The Tribunal concluded there was no “legal basis” for China’s claim to the ‘nine-dash-line’. No evidence that China had exclusive control over the disputed nine-dash-line as other states made use of the islands.
• Status of maritime features: The Tribunal “considered if any of the features could generate maritime zones beyond 12 nautical miles. Under the Convention islands generate an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles and a continental shelf, but rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Spratly islands not capable of generating extended maritime zones. “ China’s claim could not be supported by any evidence that it could generate an exclusive economic zone. “The Tribunal found that it could- without delimiting a boundary – declare that certain sea areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, because these areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.”
• China’s action a violation: The Tribunal found that China violated the Philippines sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone by (a ) interfering in with Philippine fishing and petroleum exploration, (b) constructing artificial islands and (c) failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone. The Tribunal also found that fishermen from the Philippines had traditional fishing rights at Scarborough Shoal and that China had interfered with these rights in restricting access.
• Marine Environment Unlawful activities: The Tribunal found China “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems and the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species.”
China has refused to recognize the Award. It did not participate in the arbitration. China signed the Convention and yet does not respect the rule of law.
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