South China Sea Dispute: A Court Arbitration Briefer

South China Sea Dispute: A Court Arbitration Briefer
Home of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the International Court of Justice. Karen Rustad/Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Weeks before the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague hands down the decision on the territorial dispute lodged by the Philippines against China over the highly contested area in the South China Sea, Morning News USA will be providing a briefer on this arbitration case.


Territorial Dispute

In 2013, the Philippines, headed by its chief executives outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, has filed a territorial dispute against China invoking its sovereignty in some islands in the vast South China Sea.

To back its claim, the Philippines invoked provisions of the international treaties, including the vital provisions of the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Cases concerning UNCLOS are heard by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

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In October 2015, the international tribunal decreed that it has a jurisdiction over the case after around two years of examining documents from the Philippines. Since day one, China already signified it would not participate in the proceedings, regardless of the outcome, as previously reported by the Morning News USA.

The Philippines’ Claim

Invoking provisions of the UNCLOS to which China is one of the signatory countries, the Philippines claims that it has sovereignty over some islands that are within its 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

To support its claim, the Philippines has presented historical evidences, which includes international treaties and even old maps dating up to the 18th centuries, showing that the islands or maritime zone is either annexed to the Philippines or part of its territory.

China’s Claim

China claims roughly 90 percent of the vast and probably one of the most vital maritime zones in the world. In invoking its sovereignty over the disputed area, China has been using historical accounts and old maps. But the international community considers China’s claim as inconsistent with the international law, as reported by the New York Times.

On May 13, Pentagon released a report saying that China has already built facilities in a total of 3200 acres of the disputed island.

China also invoked its unilaterally-accepted nine-dash-rule in cementing its claim over the vast maritime zone. Other than the Philippines, neighboring countries have their individual claims in the South China Sea, including Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, and Indonesia, among others.

Also Read: South China Sea Dispute: US Calls Nations To Support Philippines

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