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China urged to have civilized behavior in sea dispute settlements: workshop

Saturday, June 11, 2016, 14:41 GMT+7

In a civilized world, disputes should be resolved in a civilized manner in accordance with mutually agreed laws among relevant parties, experts said at an international workshop on sea security and development that concluded Friday in northern Vietnam.

Co-hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, the two-day workshop, taking place in Quang Ninh Province, discussed various issues, with highlights given to marine security, safety in East Asia and dispute settlement.

The final session on Friday focused on discussion ways to apply international laws and the settlement of issues through the Permanent Court of Arbitration set up under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)’s Appendix VII.

The issue has attracted international attention, in the wake of a lawsuit the Philippines has already taken China to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Beijing refused to recognize the case and a Chinese scholar also expressed defiant stance on the issue at the Quang Ninh workshop.

Professor Sienho Yee, an international law expert from the Wuhan University, said China has absolute rights to refuse to join the Permanent Court of Arbitration. China will also refuse to follow the ruling of the court, Yee said, because it has violated China’s right and legal interests.

Prof. Yee also complained that Permanent Court of Arbitration lacks objectiveness as most of the judges are European.

In response, Dr. Markus Gehring, fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law with the University of Cambridge, told the Chinese professor that the selection of judges depends on the United Nations.

Speaking to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on the sidelines of the workshop, Gehring said the arguments made by the Chinese professor are unconvincing to him.

He said ignoring the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration will weaken the rule of law, and personally attacking the court’s judges will weakened the international law.

The Lauterpacht fellow underlined that bullying is not a solution to an international issue, adding the upcoming ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration will be very important.

Dr. Gehring expressed his hope that the importance of legality will help lead to a solution to the current disputes. Even if the solution cannot settle everything, it will be a good sign for the future, he told Tuoi Tre.

He underlined that having a court to resolve disputes among claimant countries, even though one side does not agree with the ruling, is a civilized behavior.

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