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Solicitor General engages US Academics on Phl sea arbitration case
NEW YORK CITY, New York  ·  
posted 29-Apr-2013  ·  
Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza (3rd from left) flanked (from left) by Assistant Secretary Anne Marie Corominas of the Office of the President, Professor Lori Fisler Darmrosch of Columbia Law School, Professor Jerome Cohen of NYU Law School, NYU student H. Elias Blood-Patterson, and Atty. A. Tafadzwa Pasipanodya of Foley and Hoag LLP, following the forum at the Council on Foreign Relations.

While President Benigno S. Aquino III was in Brunei laying the case for the conclusion of the long-delayed code of conduct in the South China Sea/West Philippine at the 22nd Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the chief lawyer of the Philippine Government engaged leading United States (US) academics in clarifying the Philippines’ reliance on the rule of law in resolving long-standing maritime disputes in the region.                                                    

Solicitor General Francis Jardeleza was the featured speaker at separate events at Harvard University, New York University (NYU) and the Council on Foreign Relations, a leading Manhattan-based think tank, on the Philippines’ maritime arbitration case against China in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

Many of the academics applauded the Philippines’ recourse to the rule of law, led by Professor Jerome Cohen of NYU who is a leading American expert on Chinese law.

Solicitor General Jardeleza took Cohen’s course on Chinese commercial law at Harvard Law School where he obtained his Master of Laws degree in 1977.

“Jerry Cohen’s life mission has been to bring modern China to the fold of international law,” according to Solicitor General Jardeleza.

At his engagements, the Solicitor General clarified that the case concerns China’s interpretation and application of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), specifically its nine-dash line claim which interferes with the lawful exercise by the Philippines of its sovereign rights and jurisdiction in its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.

Solicitor General Jardeleza, who is also the Philippines’ lead agent in the case, reiterated the Philippines’ overriding position that resort to arbitration is “a form of peaceful settlement of disputes.”

He explained that the outcome could only benefit the Philippines, China, as well as the region and the world, by contributing to the predictability of interstate relations through the common standards set by UNCLOS, to which both countries are parties.

“Our meetings this week with the leading academic communities, while informal, was very informative, convivial and interactive,” Solicitor General Jardeleza remarked.

Among many questions asked of the Solicitor General during the open fora was what further options the Philippines could avail of, should it win a judgment that will, again, only be ignored by China.

He replied that the Philippines is seeking a legal, and not just a moral, victory, saying, “It would be in the international community’s overall interest to persuade China to respect such decision, since the repudiation would only hurt the system of international law on which countries both powerful and weak rely.”

On the role of ASEAN, the Solicitor General also said that the Philippines never bypassed the group, clarifying that, “Our ASEAN partners have always known and acknowledged that taking a legal, in addition to a diplomatic, approach is a sovereign option. This was brought to bear last year when the Philippines was having a hard time gaining ASEAN’s consensus on the matter.”

Solicitor General Jardeleza’s speaking engagement comes on the heels of the completion of the five-man arbitral tribunal that will hear the arbitration case.

The ITLOS President appointed Jean-Pierre Cot (France), Alfred Soons (Netherlands) and Chris Pinto (Sri Lanka) to the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal that will hear the Statement of Claim filed by the Philippines against China on the West Philippine Sea. They will join Rüdiger Wolfrum (Germany) and Stanislaw Pawlak (Poland) in the tribunal. Pinto will serve as their president.
The Solicitor General at the NYU forum
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