World Court and the Spratlys

THE NAGGING issue of OWNERSHIP over the Ka-layaan Group of islands, a.k.a. Spratly Islands (“Spratlys”) is doomed to be interminably recurrent.

In public international law, only a categorical determination/pronouncement by the International Court of Justice or (“World Court”), in an appropriate case filed before it, as to which State really owns the Spratlys can put closure to this lingering, open-ended problem.  Trouble is no such case has ever been filed since the time the UN Charter was approved in December 1945.

Meanwhile, dealing with the Spratlys – which is being claimed not only by China and the
Philippines but also by Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Brunei – remains chiefly a “battle of nerves” laced by mutual diplomatic behavior among the claimants-countries, notably between Philippines and China.

Both have separately erected/constructed structures/edifices on some component islets of the Spratlys to induce international belief that they are, indeed, in “full control” of the grounds on which their flags respectively fly.

Since time immemorial, Philippines has anchored its claim over the Spratlys on “historical and legal basis”.

The problem is that China, including the rest of the claimant-states, repudiates such claim as a “unilateral assertion” that has no basis in international law.

China insists they’ve asserted its ownership of Spratlys long before Phl became a colony of Spain for a period of over 400 years.

For everyone’s better understanding (pardon this space, but it suspects many are now joining the passionate scrutiny of the Spratlys issue without really understanding what it is all about), we shall endeavor to clarify in a series of two or three what the
Spratlys puzzle is all about, why we are in the middle of it and whether or not the basis of our claim over these islands is consistent with accepted principles in international law. (To be continued)


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