Pick a fight? We say no!

Though the Philippines has the legal ground to initiate the compulsory arbitration procedure under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, there are numerous restrictions while initiating this procedure.

First, the dispute over territory between China and the Philippines is not subject to the interpretation and application of the Convention. So the arbitration tribunal has no jurisdiction over it. Secondly, all the signatory states can exclude certain disputes from the compulsory procedure by a declaration made when or after ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Philippines is applying a provision that was excluded 10 years ago to blame China. Thirdly, if both parties have agreed to choose other ways to settle the disputes, they cannot apply the compulsory procedure either.

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