Sunday, March 24, 2013
New developments in China-Philippines UNCLOS arbitration: tribunal appoints representative for China
In the latest development in the China-Philippines UNCLOS arbitration, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has appointed a representative for China, since China failed to do so.
I've previously blogged about this arbitration (in chronological order, here, here, and here). China has objected to the arbitration on the substantive grounds that the complaint lacks merit, and possibly on procedural grounds that the tribunal for various reasons doesn't have jurisdiction. What the Chinese government doesn't seem to understand (perhaps willfully) is that you don't get to be your own judge of these issues; whether the complaint has merit and whether the tribunal has jurisdiction are things the tribunal decides. To fight the claim in no way acknowledges its legitimacy. What it does acknowledge is the legitimacy of the UNCLOS dispute settlement system. That's presumably an important part of UNCLOS. Does China really want to promote the principle that the system applies only to states that consent to its jurisdiction after the dispute arises?