Presented by: Edward Phillips, LLB, BCL
School of Law, the University of Greenwich
The UK National Administrator of the Jessup International Law Mooting Competition
Main objectives for the session:
- Understanding of the Dispute of the South China Sea Arbitration
- Case Study Demonstration on Maritime Suspicion and Distrust
- Networking and Diversity of Maritime/Shipping Law Research
"Maritime Suspicion and Distrust: The Global and Regional Implications of the South China Sea Arbitration"
The International Permanent Court of Arbitration delivered its long-awaited ruling in respect of the claims made by The Republic of the Philippines against The People’s Republic of China on the 12 July 2016. In a unanimous ruling, the Tribunal ruled in favour of the Philippines in respect of most (although not all) of the disputed claims made with regard to certain maritime areas of the South China Sea. It should be noted at the outset that the Tribunal was careful to emphasise that its arbitral award did not deal with any sovereignty claims to certain disputed islands in the region, nor did it deal with any question of boundary delimitation. Instead, the ruling focused on resolving (as far as possible, within the terms of the Tribunal’s jurisdictional competence) the following issues:
- The respective rights and obligations of the Philippines and China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 (UNCLOS 1982), in respect of China’s claim to ‘historic rights’ to exploit the maritime areas in dispute and whether such historic rights continue to have legal efficacy (both States are parties and are bound by the Convention).
- The legal status of a number of maritime features (islands, uninhabited rocks, high-and low-tide elevations and submerged banks) and whether these features are independently capable of generating maritime zones, in particular a territorial sea and / or exclusive economic zone.
- Whether the actions of China had degraded the marine environment and thus violated its obligations under UNCLOS 1982, through its extensive fishing and construction activities.
- Whether China, in breach of the principles of international law, had unlawfully aggravated and extended the dispute through its large-scale land reclamation and construction of artificial islands that had occurred even after the arbitration had commenced in 2013.
- This talk will provide a historical, geographic and political background to this dispute and an analysis of the decision, taking into account a number of factors including the protection of the marine environment and the implications for maritime security and freedom of navigation in a maritime area which has both regional and global significance. This is especially crucial with regard to China’s refusal to recognise the arbitral award (particularly in relation to the Tribunal’s competence to rule on the issue), the on-going interplay of ‘big power’ politics in the region and the implications of the ruling with regard to China’s relationship with the other States in the region.
Why should you attend?
- To exchange ideas and gain a better understanding about the dispute of the South China Sea Arbitration which has hit the national and international headlines with significant implications on China’s foreign relations especially in the maritime sphere
- To provide an excellent opportunity networking in Maritime/Shipping Law Research