Symposium on the South China Sea Arbitration
On 7 December 2016, the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) and the Utrecht Center for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL) hosted the Symposium on the South China Sea Arbitration. It was attended by some 35 participants, including a number of government officials and staff from embassies in The Hague.
The symposium consisted of two sessions with each two presentations commenting on specific aspects of the Award of 12 July 2016 of the Annex VII tribunal in the case brought by the Philippines against China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC).
In his opening remarks, NILOS director Alex Oude Elferink discussed the background to the Award and introduced the two sessions of the symposium. He also briefly discussed the tribunal’s handling of the issue of historic rights and China’s 9-dash line claim.
The first session of the symposium, which was chaired by professor Erik Molenaar, looked at the non-participation of China in the arbitration, and the tribunal’s interpretation of article 121(3) of the LOSC.
The second session, which was chaired by professor Seline Trevisanut, first dealt with the implications of the award for fisheries management in the South China Sea and subsequently with the environmental law aspects of the South China Sea award.
Both sessions were followed by a discussion with the participants, addressing among others the following issues:
- Might China and the Russian Federation challenge the current normative order for oceans governance in the future in view of their seeming rejection of core values of Part XV of the LOSC?
- How does the decision on article 121(3) of the LOSC on the entitlement of maritime features to maritime zones relate to the issue of maritime delimitation, which has been excluded by China from compulsory dispute settlement by a declaration under article 298 of the LOSC?
- Does the decision of the tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration reflect a broader trend of judicial activism?
Information on the presentations at the symposium is available online:
- Richard Caddell: The South China Sea Dispute: Implications for Fisheries Management (PDF)
- Alex Oude Elferink: The South China Sea Arbitration’s Interpretation of Article 121(3): A Disquieting First? (PPT)
- Ilias Plakokefalos: Environmental Law Aspects of the Arbitral Tribunal Award in the South China Sea Dispute (link)
- Otto Spijkers: Non-participation in Arbitral Proceedings under Annex VII UNCLOS: The South China Sea case (PDF)