November 01, 2016

Arbitral panel sides with Philippines in South China Sea dispute

Holly Doremus

On July 12, an Arbitral Tribunal from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued an important decision in the long-running conflict between China and its Southeast Asian neighbors over control of territory and access to resources in the South China Sea. The decision was a sweeping win for the Philippines. The panel confirmed the force of the binding dispute resolution provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). It forcefully rejected China’s claims to exclusive rights over vast areas of the South China Sea, concluded that China had unlawfully intruded on the Philippines’ sovereign rights, found that China had violated its obligation under UNCLOS to protect the marine environment, and condemned China’s acceleration of island-building activities while the dispute was pending.

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