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English>>Foreign Affairs

UN court denies involvement in South China Sea arbitration

(Xinhua)    15:54, July 15, 2016

A passenger jet of China Southern Airlines lands on the airport on Meiji Reef, July 13, 2016. China successfully carried out test flights on two new airports on the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, further enhancing its capability to provide public services as a responsible player in the region. Together with the one on Yongshu Reef, the two airfields, respectively located on Meiji Reef and Zhubi Reef, bring tangible benefits to vessels sailing in and planes flying over the area, thanks to their convenient location in the middle of the vast water body. (Xinhua/Chen Yichen)

THE HAGUE, July 15 -- The International Court of Justice (ICJ)on Thursday denied its involvement in the South China Seaarbitration.

"There is indeed a confusion," Andrey Poskakukhin, head of the ICJ's Information Department, told Xinhua in a telephone interview. "We have made it clear on our website we do not have anything to do with this case."

A statement regarding the case has appeared on the ICJ's official website since Wednesday afternoon to clarify that it did not participate in the case.

The ICJ "wishes to draw the attention of the media and the public to the fact that the Award in the South China Sea Arbitration was issued by an Arbitral Tribunal acting with the secretarial assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)," said the statement.

"The ICJ, which is a totally distinct institution, has had no involvement in the above mentioned case and, for that reason, there is no information about it on the ICJ's website," it said.

The clarification by the ICJ came one day after an ad hoc tribunal, set up at the unilateral request of the former Philippine government, issued an ill-founded award, denying China's long-standing historic rights in the South China Sea.

The Chinese government said that China will not accept any proposition or action based on the decision made by the law-abusing tribunal, which exceeded its power to rule on a case that it did not have jurisdiction over.

However, reports of some media, including some popular media in the United Statesand Europe, referred to the tribunal as a "UN-backed tribunal," or even "UN tribunal," causing confusion among the public.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Thursday told a news briefing that the arbitral tribunal "is not something that involves the Secretary-General."

Established in June 1945, the ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, also known as "the world court" or "the UN court," while the PCA, on the other hand, is a permanent framework established in 1899.

The ad hoc tribunal handling the South China Sea arbitration does not belong to the PCA and only enjoys the secretarial services offered by the PCA, which includes helping appoint experts, publish information and press releases, organize tribunals in The Hague and pay arbitrators and other staff for their services.

However, the tribunal has relations with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), as most of its members were picked by Shunji Yanai, then ITLOS president and former Japanese ambassador to the United States.

One of the reasons why the tribunal was set up in The Hague and not in Hamburg, Germany, where the ITLOS sits in because the tribunal wanted to be bound to the PCA because of its long history and international authority and credibility, says Liu Nan, an international law researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The PCA also enjoys a higher demand for its arbitrators than ad hoc tribunals.

So far the PCA has not yet responded to Xinhua's request for comment.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Kong Defang,Bianji)

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