Friday, October 28 2016


Int’l experts weigh in on East Sea issue

Update: July, 25/2016 - 09:51
Donald Rothwell, vice dean of Law Department of Australian National University delivers speech at Saturday’s conference Legal issues relating to Awards of the Arbitral tribunal established under annex VII of UNCLOS 1982. — Photo

HCM CITY — International experts encouraged Việt Nam to keep close watch on the upcoming developments of the Philippines’ lawsuit against China in order to choose for itself a suitable solution to the East Sea issue.

The recent ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on the Philippines’ lawsuit against China and its claims in the East Sea has produced a regional and international precedent, giving Việt Nam a foundation for future negotiations or a lawsuit against China. 

Donald Rothwell, vice dean of Law Department of Australian National University, who spoke to local press on the sideline of Saturday’s conference Legal issues relating to Awards of the Arbitral tribunal established under annex VII of UNCLOS 1982, said that one of the approaches Việt Nam should rely on is the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, where there are 21 prestigious international judges.

The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is also the best measure for Việt Nam to consider, said Rothwell.  

Việt Nam needs to carefully study the Philippines’ lawsuit in order to achieve satisfactory results in future negotiations with China, suggested the expert. If the negotiation cannot be successful, Việt Nam should deploy stronger measures, he added.

In response to a question about China refusing the jurisdiction of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Rothwell said it is groundless because China accepted and committed to respect and follow the legal procedures of UNCLOS when it joined the convention in 1982.

Prof. Dr. Gregory Rose, of Australia-based Wollongong University’s Centre for Natural Resource and Maritime Security Research, said that the ruling is “correct”. However, China denies the ruling.

Gregory said that the ruling offers a good opportunity for Việt Nam to take advantage in future negotiations with China.

Supporting other experts’ opinions, Associate Prof. Dr. Jay Batongbacal, director of University of Philippines’ Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea, said that with the recent ruling, Việt Nam has grounds to proceed with a lawsuit against China, which has denied Việt Nam’s authority over its waters, especially fishing grounds and oil reserves on its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone. 

If Việt Nam does not decide to solve the problem through the tribunal, the country needs to prepare for putting pressure through a diplomatic solution, such as launching an information campaign with the international community like the Philippines has done, he said, adding that support from the international community is good for both negotiations and proceeding with a lawsuit against Beijing.

Dr. Carl Thayer, of the Australian Defense Force Academy, said that the tribunal’s decision points out that China’s claim to its historical rights in the nine-dashed line in the East Sea as unacceptable.

Prof. Dr. Mai Hồng Quỳ, head of the HCM City University of Law, which co-organised the conference together with Việt Nam Lawyer Association, said that since 2003, there have been 10 disputed cases solved under the seventh annex of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

“Tribunal solutions of previous conflicts over international waters in the region and the world prove that when the disputes cannot be solved through a diplomatic approach, applying a jurisdiction solution is a necessary, right and civilised choice,” Quỳ said.

The conference, which gathered more than 220 participants, 20 local and international speakers and 64 local and international press agencies, also included Erik Frankx, professor of International Law at Vrije University in Brussels and member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration of the Hague and Prof. Dr. Hideo Yamagata, of Nagoya University in Japan. — VNS


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