American Legal Scholar Discusses the South China Sea Arbitration and the US’ Approach to the Award

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Professor Kraska responds to a question during the open forum.

The Foreign Service Institute, in partnership with the Embassy of the United States in Manila, hosted Professor James Kraska of the US Naval War College at a Mabini Dialogue on The Arbitration, The Way Forward, and Philippines-US Relations held on 1 September 2016 at the Carlos P. Romulo Library.

Professor Kraska provided a comprehensive discussion on what he identified as  four major elements of the Award  in the Philippines vs. China case: the nine-dashed line and China’s historic rights claims, the status of features in the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea, Chinese activities in the area, and the duty to refrain the aggravation of the dispute.

He stated that the Award was an overwhelming victory for the Philippines, and while the decision is not legally enforceable, it is a fully stabilizing factor for the region and oceans law in general.  He added that although the decision is final and binding only to the Philippines and China, its effect on third parties is that it can develop norms and rules building on customary international law.

The United States also regards the Award as an important contribution to the peaceful resolution of the disputes in the South China Sea.  Its policy is to continue to sail, fly, and operate anywhere that international law allows.  Professor Kraska opined that he expects a continuity of the US’ strong policy on the South China Sea regardless of who wins in the upcoming elections. The US will certainly be tested on the issue of freedom of navigation, and as both candidates are nationalists, it will not be in their interest to demonstrate weakness of the US’ position under their leadership.

The forum was attended by officers and staff of DFA and other government agencies, researchers, and students from the Development Academy of the Philippines.

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FSI Deputy Director-General Julio Amador III presents the Certificate of Appreciation to Professor James Kraska.