South China Sea ruling a 'complete, total victory' for Philippines and rule of law: Manila's lead lawyer

Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals release balloons and wave Philippine flags at a demonstration in Manila, on July 12, 2016.
Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals release balloons and wave Philippine flags at a demonstration in Manila, on July 12, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

The Philippines' lead lawyer in the South China Sea case, Mr Paul Reichler, hailed an arbitral tribunal's decision on Tuesday (July 12) against China's expansive claims over the sea as a "complete, total victory" for the Philippines, as well as for the rule of law.

"On every significant issue in the case, the Philippines prevailed. We think that this is not only a victory for the Philippines but it is a victory for the rule of law and international relations," he told reporters in a teleconference hours after the tribunal issued its decision.

Mr Reichler said it was a contribution to the strength of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the main body of rules governing the usage of the world's seas and oceans since 1982.

 

The ruling was also a "great victory", he added, for other countries bordering the South China Sea - in particular, Vietnam , Indonesia, and Malaysia, which are also claimants.

"Although the award is legally binding only on the two parties, China and the Philippines, it has very strong implications for the other coastal states along the South China Sea."

The tribunal ruled that there is no legal basis to China's "nine-dash line" demarcating its claims to swathes of the South China Sea.

"If the 'nine-dash line' is illegal, as it was declared to be today by the tribunal, then it's just as illegal for China to apply it against Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia, as it is illegal for China to apply it against the Philippines," Mr Reichler said.

"So it's not only the rights of the Philippines that have been recognised and respected today, it's also the rights of the other coastal states, in particular, Vietnam, Indonesia, andMalaysia," he added.