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Saturday, July 16, 2016, 15:37

Forum questions Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling over islands

By Luis Liu and Wang Hui in Hong Kong

Forum questions Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling over islands

Tung Chee-Hwa, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and former Chief Executive of Hong Kong SAR, addresses keynote speech at the Public International Law Colloquium on Maritime Disputes Settlement at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on July, 15 2016. (Photo / Roy Liu, China Daily)

Conflict is not the way to solve territorial problems, and working together, building trust and friendship, developing mutually beneficial economic activities is the way to move forward, said Tung Chee-hwa, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and former chief executive of the Hong Kong SAR.

Addressing the Public International Law Colloquium on Maritime Disputes Settlement on Friday in Hong Kong, Tung said the decision issued in The Hague on Tuesday is not only incorrect but also complicates the situation and may lead the region to a crisis of enormous consequence.

The two-day event is the first major international forum held after the Arbitral Tribunal appointed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday in favor of the Philippines in a South China Sea arbitration case it unilaterally filed against China.

"We need to realize that we live in a troubled world. The only area that holds promise for growth and stability is in the vast Asia-Pacific region,” Tung said.

The forum, jointly organized by the Chinese Society of International Law and Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, focused on four topics covering substantive and procedural issues of the maritime dispute settlement.

More than 200 legal professionals, academics and government officials from around the world shared their views on the law of the sea and discussed a proper means of resolving maritime disputes.

Forum questions Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling over islands

Li Shishi, President of Chinese Society of International Law, makes opening remarks at the Public International Law Colloquium on Maritime Disputes Settlement at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on July 15, 2016. (Photo by Roy Liu / China Daily)

Li Shishi, president of Chinese Society of International Law, said the settlement of maritime dispute requires the political consensus of the governments and the contribution of scholars in order to forge consensus.

Speaking on the sidelines of the forum, Anthony Carty, a professor at Tsinghua University, and Abdul G. Koroma, a former judge at the International Court of Justice, both questioned the Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling.

"The tribunal had unreasonably interpreted the definition of island and had come up with a very peculiar doctrine of assessing geographical features,” said Carty, adding that “the ruling had made the situation much worse”.

"It is questionable whether the Arbitral Tribunal was entitled to render an award in the particular case as China had already made the declaration in 2006, excluding issues of territorial sovereignty and maritime delimitation from the compulsory dispute settlements by any tribunal,” said Koroma.

Contact the writers at luisliu@chinadailyhk.com

Forum questions Arbitral Tribunal’s ruling over islands

(From left to right) Donald Rothwell, professor of Australian National University, Xue Hanqin, judge of International Court of Justice, Pemmaraju Sreenivasa Rao, President of Institut De Droit International and former Chairman of the ILC and Moderator and Surakiart Sathirathai, former Deputy Prime Minister and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Chairman of Asian Peace and Reconciliation Council (APRC) at the panel session of the Territorial Sovereignty, Maritime Rights and the Application of International Law during the forum at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on 15 July 2016. (Photo / Roy Liu, China Daily)

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