UNCLOS Current Affairs - 2019
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The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague, the Netherlands has rejected China’s claims to economic rights across large swathes of South China Sea.
Ruling in this regard was given by a five-member tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Hague in a case brought by the Philippines.
The ruling came from an arbitration tribunal under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) which both China and Philippines have signed. The ruling is binding but the tribunal has no powers for enforcement.
- There was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the South China Sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line.
- China has violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights and also caused severe harm to the coral reef environment by building artificial islands in South China Sea.
- China’s rights are incompatible with the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) provided in the UNCLOS.
- The current round of tension between Philippines and China began in 2009 after a tense stand-off over Scarborough Shoal, which led to China to gain de facto control of it in 2012.
- Philippines had lodged its suit against China at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Seain 2013, saying China has violated the UNCLOS to which both countries are signatories.
- China has boycotted the tribunal ever since Philippines had filed the petition in The Hague international court.
- Earlier in 2013, China also had set up an ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) over similarly disputed territory in the East China Sea.
Disputes in South China Sea
- Disputes in South China Sea are fight mainly between China, Philippines, Vietnam over the territorial sovereignty in South China Sea along with other atolls, reefs and rocky outcrops.
- China’s claim: It is saying that major portion of these islands belong to them as part of the historical events and area defined by Nine Dash Line.
- Under its claim, China already has started and even completed building artificial islands and even strategic runways for mobilising its airforce from these islands.
- China’s claim overlap the South Chia Sea areas of different claimants countries, that involve Brunei, Vietnam, Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia.
- Importance of South China Sea: It is strategically located and major international shipping route as world’s half merchant ships passes through it.
- The sea rich in energy (reserves of natural resources around them including petroleum), mineral and fishing resources.
- India’s position: Supports freedom of navigation and flight and unimpeded commerce based on the principals of international law in South China Sea.
- Believes that states should resolve deputes through peaceful means and exercise self – restraint.