The Legal Dimension
Edited by S. Jayakumar, Tommy Koh, Robert Beckman, Tara Davenport and Hao D. Phan
Chapter 10: The South China Sea Arbitral Award, Part XII of UNCLOS, and the protection and preservation of the marineenvironment
Rarely has a decision been so anticipated as that of the award handed down by the Arbitral Tribunal on 12 July 2016 in ‘In the Matter of the South China Sea Arbitration’ between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China filed by the Philippines against China under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on 22 January 2013. The Tribunal in a unanimous decision found that China had violated UNCLOS provisions on protection of the marine environment by tolerating harmful fishing activities, harvesting of endangered species, and causing devastating damage to coral reefs through its construction and land reclamation activities. A notable aspect of the Award was the decision by the Tribunal to treat protection of the marine environment independent from issues of sovereignty, status of maritime features and maritime delimitation.
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