Thursday, August 29, 2013

Philippines given until March next year for submissions against China's nine-dash line claim

From InterAksyon (Aug 28): Philippines given until March next year for submissions against China's nine-dash line claim

Shown is China's nine-dash map indicating its claim over waters that are within the Philippines' territory.

The Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague has given the Philippine government until March 30, 2014 to make all its submissions on the case it brought against China for the latter’s nine-dash-line claim over vast waters in the South China Sea, it was learned Wednesday.

In its first procedural order dated August 27, 2013, the tribunal also instructed the Philippines “to fully address all issues, including matters relating to the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal, the admissibility of the Philippines’ claim, as well as the merits of the dispute.”

The order set the initial timetable for the arbitration and adopted its own Rules of Procedure.

Before adopting the Rules of Procedure and timetable, the Arbitral Tribunal provided both parties copies of the draft Rules of Procedure for comment.

On July 31, the Philippines submitted comments on the draft. On August 1, China addressed a Note Verbale to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in which it reiterated its position that “it does not accept the arbitration initiated by the Philippines” and stated that it was not participating in the proceedings.

The Philippines filed the case on January 22 this year. China responded on February 19 with a diplomatic note to the Philippines rejecting any participation to the case. China has always insisted that territorial disputes must be resolved bilaterally.

“The Arbitral Tribunal will determine the further course of the proceedings, including the need for and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings, at an appropriate later stage, after seeking the views of the Parties,” it said.

The order followed the first meeting of the members of the tribunal on July 11 this year, where the body also decided to set out the course of action in case one of the parties does not appear in the proceedings.

“In the first Procedural Order, the Arbitral Tribunal formally adopts the Rules of Procedure and fixes 30 March 2014 as the date on which the Philippines should submit its Memorial,” the order said.

The Rules of Procedure

The Rules of Procedure, which supplement those contained in Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), set out the procedures on communications, language, publicity, organization of hearings, consideration of objections to the body’s jurisdiction, requests for provisional measures, and the appointment of experts to assist the Arbitral Tribunal.

The Rules of Procedure that the Permanent Court of Arbitration will serve as the registry in the proceedings.

The five-member Arbitral Tribunal is chaired by Judge Thomas A. Mensah of Ghana. The other members are Judge Jean-Pierre Cot of France, Judge Stanislaw Pawlak of Poland, Professor Alfred Soons of the Netherlands, and Judge RĂ¼diger Wolfrum of Germany.

The Philippines is questioning China’s “nine-dash line” as basis for its sweeping claims in the South China Sea.

The Philippines claims parts of the South China Sea and refers to them as the West Philippine Sea.

China, which insists on a bilateral solution to the conflict, rejected the arbitration in February, saying the Philippines’ case was legally infirm.

Along with 161 other countries, both the Philippines and China are signatories to the 1982 accord allowing them to seek legal remedy on territorial disputes.

Aside from the Philippines and China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam have overlapping claims over the resource-rich waters.

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