Statement on the South China Sea Arbitration (The Republic of the Philippines v. The People’s Republic of China)

Photo from the webpage of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

Photo from the webpage of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration is a very big win for the Philippines, and I believe the Court applied letter and spirit of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in its decision. Since the Juridical Regime of Historic Waters is not among the maritime zones under the UNCLOS, China cannot invoke the nine-dash-line clam as a valid legal basis for its maritime expansion in the West Philippine Sea.

Nonetheless, the ruling does not settle the entirety of the dispute as it involves claims to islands, which is beyond the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

We should return to the negotiating table with China, take advantage of the ruling of the Court, and settle once and for all the issue of conflicting claims within the Spratly Islands.

The decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration itself will facilitate an early settlement of the issue because none of the islands can generate an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles, which will make the process of negotiation a lot easier.

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