The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention. The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea.
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, and over all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal (Statute, article 21)….
The mechanism established by the Convention provides for four alternative means for the settlement of disputes: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Court of Justice, an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII to the Convention, and a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII to the Convention.
A State Party is free to choose one or more of these means by a written declaration to be made under article 287 of the Convention and deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations (declarations made by States Parties under article 287).
If the parties to a dispute have not accepted the same settlement procedure, the dispute may be submitted only to arbitration in accordance with Annex VII, unless the parties otherwise agree….
The Tribunal has jurisdiction over all disputes concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, subject to the provisions of article 297 and to the declarations made in accordance with article 298 of the Convention.
Article 297 and declarations made under article 298 of the Convention do not prevent parties from agreeing to submit to the Tribunal a dispute otherwise excluded from the Tribunal's jurisdiction under these provisions (Convention, article 299).
The above are text in the official site for the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea.
Li Jinming, a professor of international maritime law at Xiamen University, pointed out that the use of terms such “UN tribunal” or “UN-backed tribunal” – frequently reported by Western media – is incorrect, as they confuse the PCA with the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ).
So far the UN has never stood up to claim any relationship with the Permanent Court of Arbitration and it is puzzling why countries and reputable academics and even the crafty politicians would claim that this PCA is an UN institution or backed by the UN. What is obviously a glaring question now is that why would the Philippines, with its backers in the US and Japan, chose to go to the PCA and not the ITLOS? The distinction and authority of the two institutions are blinding. One is an official institution of the UN and the other is a private institution that has nothing to do with the UN.
The value of the PCA and its judgement is clearly a case of two willing parties agreeing to seek its arbitration. It is totally irrelevant and meaningless when another party refused to be arbitrated by the PCA. A one sided arbitration and judgment by the PCA is as good a piece of waste paper to an unwilling party. How silly it is for the Philippines and those calling for China to abide by a nothing more than a back lane commercial institution ruling is hilarious. The PCA’s ruling has no credibility and legal standing to an unwilling party. Period.
Again, why did the Philippines go the PCA and not the ITLOS? Base on the issues raised, the ITLOS would have thrown out the case as inadmissible. The ITLOS would abide by the provisions of UNCLOS, article 298, that forbid it to judge over an issue of territorial claims. And the Philippines and its backers, the Americans and Japanese knew very well that they did not have a prima facie case to start with.
More questions. For objectivity, fairness and justice, the provisions of the ITLOS are very specific, from the appointment of neutral judges to the consent of both litigants are spelt clearly. It does not arrogate itself to judge on territorial disputes without the consent of both parties. It has a panel of independent judges to hear the case, not judges to be appointed at the whims and fancies of interested parties and not judges that are paid by the interested parties as in this ICA case.
In this South China Sea dispute, it is obvious who foot the bills of the judges, the court and the legal counsels, and who did not. How could this be a fair trial conducted by disinterested parties? And what authority has a private institution, a ‘back lane’ tribunal has on sovereign states to demand that sovereign states respect and accept its judgment?
The Americans, the Japanese and the Philippines would want the rest of the world to believe that the PCA is an authoritative body, an international body sanctioned by the UN and has the jurisdiction and power to decide the fate of nation states and to delineate their territorial space, that its decision is final and binding and to disregard them is to ignore international laws and order.
How convenient to take such a stand with the western media and cronies singing the same tune, that the PCA represents the international law and order. What a joke. It is an insult to the intelligence of the people of the world and sovereign states to think they could pull wool over their eyes. The PCA is a private institution whose judgment is only as good as willing litigants want it to be, nothing more, nothing less. It has no legal status and has no jurisdiction over national territorial issues.
In this South China Sea ruling it is as good as a farce, totally devoid of credibility and legal standing. It is a political and mischievous act to deceive the world that it is legal and binding on China. Anyone that believes the PCA ruling is a legal and binding judgment must be an idiot whose intellect is next to zero. The Americans, Japanese and the Philippines must be laughing themselves silly that there are so many simpletons in the world that could be so easily duped by such an amateurist ploy.
PS. It is important to enlighten the masses that did not have the full facts of the case and did not know what the Permanent Court of Arbitration is all about. Even main stream media are in a daze and telling its readers that the PCA is an UN backed institution. Did they do their homework, done their due diligence? They are supposed to be professional news makers, to check and double check their facts before putting it out as the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.