tirsdag 13. juli 2021

The South China Sea Arbitration Award: 5 Years and Beyond

On July 12, 2016, the Arbitral Tribunal instituted under Annex VII of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) issued a final award of significant importance on the South China Sea arbitration case (the Award). Since then, this landmark decision has inspired numerous discussions on legal issues and has been considered as providing a legal background for the maritime activities taken by various countries in the South China Sea.

The Award, with its findings, has contributed greatly to the development of the international law of the sea and advanced the legal debate on the South China Sea issues in many ways. It has served as a legal basis for all the relevant states to review their positions and policies in the South China Sea.

After a period of opting for caution and downplaying the victory that it won in the South China Sea arbitration, Manila gradually turned to confirm the value of the Award. In his speech to annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte stated that “the Award is now part of international law, beyond compromise and beyond the reach of passing governments to dilute, diminish or abandon.”