Tribunal on S. China Sea disputes not primary judicial branch of UN, says ex-ICJ judge

Reuters

Posted at Jul 14 2016 11:40 AM

The Arbitral Tribunal, which issued an award on the South China Sea arbitration, is not a primary judicial branch of the United Nations, according to a former judge of the International Court of Justice.

"The Arbitral Tribunal which rendered the award yesterday, that is a body which was set up under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It is not the International Court of Justice and it is a temporary body," Abdul G. Koroma said.

Koroma said the International Court of Justice is the principal, the main judicial organ of the UN, but the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which filed the South China Sea arbitration case with the unilateral request from the former government of the Philippines, is a temporary administrative temporary body.

"The Permanent Court of Arbitration, the PCA, and the International Court of Justice share the same building in The Hague which is called the Peace Palace. So it's not very easy for a non-lawyer to be able to make the distinction between the two bodies," said Koroma.

"The Permanent Court of Arbitration, it's a body which acts as the administrative body of arbitral tribunal. So states that have to exchange documents, pleadings, they use the PCA for that purpose. The PCA, of course, it has other functions. It's also responsible for investment disputes and so on and so forth," he said.

The former judge said the purpose of any arbitral settlement is to bring peaceful resolution of a conflict, rather than for any political uses.

"One should never lose sight of the fact that the purpose of an arbitral settlement, or it's not an end in itself. It's a means to an end - that is the peaceful resolution of a conflict. A tribunal or a court should never lose sight of that," he said.

China has rejected the jurisdiction of the arbitration on the South China Sea disputes unilaterally initiated by the Philippines.

The award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal is null and void and has no binding force, said a white paper the State Council released on Wednesday.