THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Round 1 in favor of the Philippines, International arbitration panel says it has jurisdiction to take a dispute between the Philippines versus the Peoples Republic of China over contested parts of the West Philippine Sea.

This initial victory means the tribunal can hear the merits of the Philippines’ case – and issue a definitive ruling by 2016.

In a 151-page decision, issued late Thursday evening, October 29, the Permanent Court of Arbitration found that it has jurisdiction to hear several of the Philippines’ submissions in the West Philippine Sea case.

The court, which will lead and conducts its arbitration hearings behind closed doors, says the Philippines has stressed it is not asking arbitrators to decide the question of sovereignty over maritime features in the South China Sea that are claimed by both the Philippines and China or who owns the contested islands in the South China sea or West Philippine Sea.

Instead, the Philippines has asked the arbitral tribunal to declare the features in the disputed sea as “rocks” and not islands.

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), to which the Philippines and China are both signatories, rocks do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 miles.

The Philippines explained that a portion of the maritime territory being claimed by China sits within the Philippines’ 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone of the Philippines.

The court added that its jurisdiction with respect to seven other issues, or “submissions” in arbitration parlance, by the Philippines remain pending and “will need to be considered in conjunction with the merits.”

But for China, they insist the panel has no jurisdiction and has said it won’t participate in any arbitration.

Read this Permanent Court of Arbitration “Press Release” statement

Source info:, Reuters
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By:Jason E.