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Law experts say arbitration 'one-sided'

Reporter: Li Jiejun 丨 CCTV.com

07-17-2016 05:12 BJT

Full coverage: The South China Sea Issue

Hundreds of legal scholars gathered in Hong Kong to discuss international maritime law and norms for settling disputes at a two day conference, which ended earlier Saturday. The South China Sea issue was a major discussion topic at the conference.  Many participants questioned the authority and findings of an arbitration panel that released its opinion on the South China Sea earlier this week.

Legal experts from around the world were in Hong Kong to discuss international norms for settling maritime disputes. The colloquium held a special panel on the controversial South China Sea arbitration.

Experts and practitioners discussed a range of issues -- including territorial sovereignty, maritime entitlement, the application of international law and more.

Most agreed that the arbitral tribunal in the Hague released a one-sided opinion on the South China Sea.

"It is true that a lot was wrong with that award, anti-Chinese and pro-Philippines, especially when all the evidence is provided by one side. It was fundamentally a flawed system," said Prof. Myron Nordquist from University of Virginia.

Academics have questioned the tribunal's authority to release an award on the South China Sea. The United Nations has clarified that the tribunal is not a UN agency. The credibility of the tribunal's judges have also come under scrutiny.

"The tribunal consists of four European members, and one other member, who has been living in Europe. So this is a European tribunal making judgments for people living many thousands of miles away. So what do you expect? Two of the arbitrators had published views favorable to China before this. They changed their opinions without any explanation. Their lack of consistency violates the norms of international law," said Prof. Sienho Yee from Wuhan University.

The Chinese government has called the arbitration a political farce and rejected its ruling as invalid. Experts have supported China’s stance.

"China has repeated the issue which has been brought to the tribunal was excluded by the convention. China also send informal notices that it will not going to participate in the arbitration proceedings. So there is basis if China is not prepared to accept," said Abdul Gadire Koroma, Former Judge of Int'l Court of Justice.

Analysts say both China and the Philippines are facing pressure to resolve the issue. There is still hope that their maritime disputes can be settled diplomatically. It’s the common wish of people on both sides that the troubled water can be back to normal.

After the verdict, both Beijing and Manila have expressed their willingness to resolve their territorial disputes peacefully. Experts say the ruling of the arbitration is largely controversial, but it may have also opened a door to negotiations.

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