World / Asia-Pacific

South China Sea arbitration abuses international law: Chinese scholar

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-12 09:29

BERLIN -- Arbitration on the South China Sea initiated unilaterally by the Philippines is a possible abuse of international law, Cai Congyan, international law professor at Xiamen University and visiting scholar at Humboldt University told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Cai said: "The Philippines' unilateral request for arbitration on the South China Sea could be deemed as abuse of international law, at least not in good faith."

He said China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines have signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in 2002 that includes a dispute settlement mechanism. However, the Philippines did not fully utilize the mechanism in accordance with the Declaration.

What China opposes is the unilateral initiation of arbitration by a concerned party in the South China Sea when the dispute settlement mechanism under the Declaration is not fully made use of, Cai said.

"In this case, the arbitral tribunal did not interpret the rules of international law as well as the real intention behind the Philippines' arbitration claims appropriately. It also presents a higher risk in abuse of international law by international dispute settlement bodies and their problematic expansion of jurisdiction prevails," he added.

An increasing number of countries are also raising doubts on the neutrality and independence of arbitrators in this case. "The appointment of arbitrators in this case is obviously unjust. Therefore, the legitimacy of such a formation can hardly be guaranteed," said Cai.

According to him, China excluded maritime delimitation from compulsory arbitration in a declaration made in 2006, in accordance with UNCLOS concerning the optional exceptions to the applicability of the U.N. Convention, which means the arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction on such issues.

In the arbitration on the South China Sea, the tribunal held that the Philippines' "pretending" claims only refer to the interpretation of UNCLOS, only because the exempted issue of maritime demarcation was not literally included in the Philippines' claims.

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