THE HAGUE, Netherlands (DWDD) – The voice of a tiny nation was heard July 12, 2016 as the five-member United Nations Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands sided with all of the 15 contentions the Philippines raised against China’s 9-dashed line claim which the court stated has no legal basis to encroach on the whole of the South China Sea.
The court awards the Philippines the equitable solution to a full 200 nautical mile (NM) exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and to a substantial share of the extended continental shelf beyond 200 NM or nearly four-fifths of an area sprawling over 50,000 sq km. ending an arbitration process that started in 2013 under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The ruling will benefit not only the Philippines but also its neighbours and other claimant countries, thus providing a clear roadmap for co-existing in the West Philippine Sea maritime zone that was perceived as a potential flash point.
Legal experts believe that this case can be used as an “effective platform” in defining maritime entitlements with finality.
And, despite the anxiety, hard work and the guidance of the Lord, the Philippines prevailed.
The Arbitral Tribunal Key Findings:
- China’s ‘nine-dash-line’ is invalid
“The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash-line, since it they have no evidence that they had historically exercised exclusive control over the territory.”
- China’s illegally constructed islands have no EEZ
China’s artificial islands are not capable of sustaining a population, so under international treaties, it does not have the 200 nautical mile “exclusive economic zone” (EEZ) enjoyed by inhabited land, and the presence of official personnel on many of the features is still dependent on outside support and not reflective of the capacity of the features… (and) ….that none of the Spratly Islands is capable of generating extended maritime zones, thus 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 those areas are not overlapped by any possible entitlement of China.
3. China has behaved unlawfully
“China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. The Tribunal further held that Chinese law-enforcement vessels had unlawfully created a serious risk of collision when they physically obstructed Philippine vessels.”
4. China damaged the environment in the disputed territories
China’s large-scale land reclamation has “caused severe harm to the coral reef environment and violated its obligation to preserve and protect fragile ecosystems, and they have been remiss in stopping the harmful” harvesting of endangered sea turtles, coral and giant clams on a substantial scale” by their fishermen.
5. China should have stopped their island building during the legal process
“China’s recent large-scale reclamation and construction of artificial islands was incompatible with the obligations on a state during dispute resolution proceedings, insofar as China has… destroyed evidence of the natural condition of features of the South China Sea that formed part of the Parties’ dispute.”
Despite China’s hardline stand against proceedings and now the decision of the arbitral tribunal, it can still rely on its allies in the hope of helping ease the tension and create an environment of stability in the region.
The Philippines is also relying on other countries who supported us in the campaign to help in convincing Beijing to follow the rule of law, since we now have a platform to be able to move the case forward. AES / MCAG