A new legal move of Vietnam in the South China Sea

Observers commented that this nomination proves that Vietnam is paying more attention to the legal aspects of dispute settlement in the South China Sea.

First nomination of foreign arbitrators

Tensions surrounding China’s recent moves in the South China Sea have brought public attention to Vietnam’s nominations. In fact, from July 27, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Hoai Trung awarded the decision to nominate an arbitrator and mediator under UNCLOS 1982.

Accordingly, four nominations for the mediator position include Mr. Pham Quang Hieu (Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs), Ambassador Huynh Minh Chinh (former deputy director of the National Border Committee), Ambassador Nguyen Thi Thanh Ha (former director of the Department of Law and International treaties) and ambassador Nguyen Quy Binh (former deputy director of National Border Committee, former director of International Law and Treaty Department).

Meanwhile, the nominated arbitrators include Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Hong Thao (Diplomatic Academy, member of the United Nations International Law Commission, former vice president of the National Border Committee. ), Assoc.Prof.Dr. Nguyen Thi Lan Anh (Diplomatic Academy), Dr. Nguyen Dang Thang (director, National Border Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, member of the Permanent Court of International Arbitration), and Prof. Robert Beckman ( director of the Oceanic Law and Policy Program, Center for International Law, National University of Singapore).

On August 6, the Vietnamese Embassy in Singapore also held a ceremony to officially award the nomination decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Mr. Beckman. Vietnamese Ambassador to Singapore Tao Thi Thanh Huong stressed that this was the first time in history that Vietnam had nominated a foreigner for this important position.

“This affirms not only the recognition of Mr. Beckman’s knowledge and experience but also the impartiality and support for peaceful dispute resolution, based on international law”, said Ambassador Cao Thi Thanh Huong.

Execution of rights of the UNCLOS member

Vietnam’s recent move has contributed to more speculation about the possibility of Vietnam suing China on the South China Sea. However, experts on international sea law stated that it is too early to talk about the above scenario.

Prof. Dr. James Kraska (Stockton International Law Center, US Naval War University) said that Vietnam, as well as all the parties that signed UNCLOS 1982, can nominate arbitrators to choose for a lawsuit in the future. However, “the fact that Vietnam appointing a group of arbitration does not necessarily imply that they are suing immediately, but this is simply the exercise of its rights as a member of UNCLOS”, he commented to Tuoi Tre.

The same, similar, Youth also interviewed Mr. Beckman himself, who was nominated as arbitrator. This maritime expert explained the processes and interests of a member state in UNCLOS 1982.

Mr. Beckman commented: “This nomination means that Vietnam demonstrated support for UNCLOS 1982 and its dispute resolution procedures, by exercising its right to nominate candidates for the list of United Nations arbitrators and mediators.

Many UNCLOS 1982 member states have exercised this right. This is not a signal that Vietnam is intending to initiate dispute resolution proceedings against any member.

Rather, this is a signal that Vietnam supports the rules-based legal process set forth in UNCLOS 1982 and the procedures in UNCLOS for peaceful settlement of disputes between member states, around the interpretation and application of the provisions of the convention.

Mr. Beckman is a close watch of the legal situation at sea, especially the South China Sea. This scholar has attended many international conferences, including the Philippines v. China. From his experience, he further explained the relationship between the litigation process and the appointment of an arbitrator or mediator.

“The majority of countries that nominated persons to the list of arbitrators have never started these dispute resolution proceedings. Neither the Philippines nor Malaysia nominated persons for the list of arbitrators, but the Philippines did. dispute settlement procedures against China, while Malaysia is doing the same thing with Singapore in the land reclamation lawsuit, “Mr. Beckman said.

Dr. Kraska also told Youth: “Vietnam has acted purposefully and in accordance with international law. Vietnam has demonstrated a stable presence in the South China Sea”.

China has a representation in ITLOS

The fact that Mr. Doan Khiet Long, the Chinese ambassador to Hungary, was selected as one of the 7 judges of the International Court of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) recently raised many concerns because China repeatedly disrespected UNCLOS 1982.

Dr. James Kraska said that countries are more likely to be concerned about the adherence of Chinese judges to the rule of law, practical application of the law, and even the politicization of the results, which could promote the strategy of domination to rule their area.

However, Professor Beckman shared with Youth The somewhat optimistic view on this issue: “As far as I understand, the ambassador (Doan Khiet Long) is the only candidate from Asia for the position of judge. I think it is good that China has given a candidate into ITLOS.

It shows that China still has an interest in dispute settlement procedures under UNCLOS 1982, even when it did not participate in the South China Sea lawsuit (Philippines v. “U-shaped line” – PV) and did not comply. player decision legally binding of the arbitration council in that case “.

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