UN court reaffirms unrelated to South China Sea arbitral tribunal

The United Nations (UN) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) recently issued statements reiterating that they have no connection to the temporary arbitral tribunal established under UNCLOS for the South China Sea case brought unilaterally by the Philippines.

The spokesperson of UN Secretary-General also stated that “the UN doesn’t have a position on the legal and procedural merits of the case or on the disputed claims” at a daily briefing on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the UN’s official account on Sina Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter, posted that the tribunal has nothing to do with the UN.

“The ICJ, located at the Peace Palace, is the principal judicial organ of the UN, which was established in accordance with the UN Charter,” reads the post.

The Peace Place is built to house the Permanent Court of International Justice, the predecessor of the ICJ, by the Carnegie Foundation. The UN donates to the foundation annually for using the building, the post explained.

“Another tenant of the Peace Palace is the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) established in 1899, but it has no correlation with the UN,” the post further pointed out.

Former ICJ Judge Abdul Koroma confirmed the UN’s post to People’s Daily. He said that the temporary tribunal is not an UN institution and the PCA is not a court in a real sense.

“Many people who are not familiar with the situation would confuse the tribunal with the ICJ who shares the same office building,” Koroma noted.

The PCA is merely an international mediation agency that allows arbitration for non-state entities and individuals. According to Koroma, only 16 arbitration requests have been accepted in its 117-year-long history.

The ICJ also released a statement on its official website on Thursday, stating that “the Award in the South China Sea Arbitration was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the PCA. The ICJ, which is a totally distinct institution, has had no involvement in the above mentioned case.”

According to insiders of the ICJ, the temporary tribunal only used the hall room of the PCA during court hearing. The arbitral tribunal is just a provisional organization set at the unilateral request of the Philippines for compulsory arbitration.

An unnamed staff member of the PCA told People’s Daily that arbitrators of this temporary set-up have no work ethic and they only care about money. “This institution is no place for justice. It has been reduced to a commercial venue for private interests,” said the employee.

In an interview with People’s Daily, Rao Pemmaraju, former Chairman of the International Law Commission, explicitly pointed out that territorial issues are not subject to the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and delimitation issues have been excluded from compulsory arbitration procedures in statements of the Chinese government, thus the tribunal has no jurisdiction over the case.

By Ren Yan from People’s Daily

 

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