By MarEx 2015-09-02 23:20:11
Singapore and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea have signed a joint declaration that allows Singapore to be a venue in Asia for the settlement of disputes relating to the law of the sea.
Singaporean Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Law, Ng How Yue, and the President of the Tribunal, Judge Vladimir Golitsyn, signed the agreement earlier this week.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an independent judicial body, established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to hear any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the UNCLOS.
Singapore became a party to the convention in November 1994. Currently, there are 167 parties to the convention – 166 states and the European Union.
The joint declaration underscores the commitment of both sides to safeguarding the international rule of law in the region. In line with this commitment, the Singapore government will provide appropriate facilities to the Tribunal whenever it is desirable for a special chamber of the Tribunal or the Tribunal to sit or exercise its functions in Singapore.
Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law, K Shanmugam said: “The Joint Declaration is a clear endorsement of Singapore as a neutral venue for the effective settlement of international disputes. It also demonstrates Singapore’s commitment to the international rule of law by facilitating access to ITLOS in order to serve the needs of the states of this region, with a view to promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes relating to the law of the sea.”
The East and South China Seas are the scene of escalating territorial disputes between China and its neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The International Court of Justice and ITLOS are two forums where claimants can file submissions on such disputes. In 2013, the Philippines initiated arbitration over its territorial dispute with China in the South China Sea. This has been taken up by ITLOS despite China’s refusal to participate.