MANILA, Philippines – Polish judge Stanislaw Pawlak will represent China in the arbitral proceedings initiated by the Philippines over the territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), a senior government official told Rappler on Sunday, March 24.
Pawlak was appointed last week by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) president, Japanese judge Shunji Yanai, after China failed to designate its own representative within the 60-day deadline established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The next step will be for Yanai to nominate within 30 days the 3 remaining members of the arbitration panel that will examine the case, the official added.
German judge and former ITLOS President Rudy Wolfrum was picked to represent the Philippines after Manila presented its Notification and Statement of Claim in the UN arbitration on January 22.
China on February 19 officially rejected the proceedings, saying that the Philippine government had compiled a “factually flawed and false” claim and claiming it has sufficient historical and jurisprudential evidence to support its sovereignty over the whole South China Sea.
In accordance with this policy, Beijing refused to nominate its representative in the panel, forcing ITLOS to make the choice.
UNCLOS establishes that once the 5 members are confirmed, they will hear the arguments of both parties and decide on the merit of the case.
Over the past two years Manila has complained about Beijing’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing its claims, particularly over areas believed to be rich in oil and natural gas reserves.
China’s stance led to a standoff last year with the Philippines over rich fishing grounds around Scarborough Shoal, a rocky outcrop much closer to the Philippine coast than to China’s shores. – with reports from Carlos Santamaria/Rappler.com