France, Germany, UK challenge legality of Chinaâs South China Sea claim
In a note verbale submitted on Sept. 16 to the UN, France, Germany and the UK highlighted the argument that China’s exercise of “historic rights” over the South China Sea “does not comply with international law and the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
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France, Germany, UK challenge legality of China’s South China Sea claim
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — France, Germany and the United Kingdom have challenged before the United Nations the legality of China’s sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea.

In a note verbale submitted on Sept. 16 to the UN, France, Germany and the UK highlighted the argument that China’s exercise of “historic rights” over the South China Sea “does not comply with international law and the provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).”

The three countries also recalled that the arbitral award in the Philippines v. China case dated July 12, 2016 “clearly confirms this point.”

“As state parties to UNCLOS, France, Germany and the UK reaffirmed their legal position,” the three countries declared. “France, Germany and the United Kingdom will continue to uphold and assert their rights and freedoms enshrined in UNCLOS and to contribute to promoting cooperation in the region as set out under the Convention.”

The three stressed the universal and unified character of UNCLOS that sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.

“The integrity of the Convention needs to be maintained, as reaffirmed by the UN General Assembly in its annual resolution on oceans and law of the sea,” they declared.

France, Germany and the UK said there is no legal ground for continental states to treat archipelagos or marine features as a whole entity without respecting the relevant provisions in Part II of UNCLOS.

The three countries maintained that all maritime claims in the South China Sea should be made and peacefully resolved in accordance with the principles and rules of UNCLOS and the means and procedures for the settlement of disputes provided in the Convention.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea based on a so-called nine-dash line.

In a landmark ruling on July 12, 2016, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration found no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to a “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea and that Beijing had breached the sovereign rights of the Philippines, which brought the case.

China, however, has opposed and refused to honor the tribunal ruling.

Beijing has likewise refused to accept any proposal or action based on the arbitral tribunal decision, calling the ruling junking its claims to historic sea rights as illegal and invalid.

SOUTH CHINA SEA
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