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«Историческое название» в международном морском праве и правовое значение решения арбитражного суда, назначенного 12 июля 2016 г. в соответствии с приложением VII к конвенции ООН 1982 года по морскому праву

12 июля 2016 г. Международный арбитражный суд, созданный в соответствии с Приложением VII к Конвенции Организации Объединенных Наций по морскому праву 1982 г. (ЮНКЛОС), официально вынес решение по делу Филиппин против Китая, тем самым подтвердив, что претензии Китая в Южно-Китайском море обнуляются.

Решение в пользу Филиппин в основном предназначено для оказания политического и дипломатического давления и создания общественного мнения, чтобы заставить Китай вести себя в соответствии с ЮНКЛОС. Несмотря на это, награда по-прежнему имеет юридическую силу, эффективно сдерживая экспансионистскую политику Китая. В этой статье рассматривается роль награды в аннулировании «исторического названия», на который претендует Китай, чтобы реализовать свою «линию девяти пунктиров» в соответствии со своими территориальными претензиями в 2009 году в будущем.

Ключевые слова: Международный арбитражный суд, Конвенция ООН по морскому праву 1982 года, Историческое название, Исторические воды, Девятипунктирная линия, Решение, Филиппины, Китай, Южно-Китайское море.

NGUYEN Thi Van Huyen
senior lecturer of the Faculty of International Law of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law

TRAN Thanh Thao
postgraduate student of Criminal law, criminal process and criminalistics sub-faculty of the Peoples Friendship University of Russia, senior lecturer of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law


On July 12, 2016, the International Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) officially ruled the case of the Philippines against China, thereby confirming the claims of China in the South China Sea are nullified. The ruling in favor of the Philippines is mainly to exercise political and diplomatic pressure and create public opinion to force China to behave in consistence with UNCLOS. Even so, the award still has the legal effect of effectively deterring China’s expansionist policies. This article addresses the role of the award in nullifying the "historic title” claimed by China to realize its "nine-dash line” under its territorial claim in 2009 in the future.

Keywords: The International Arbitral Tribunal, The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Historic title, Historic waters, Nine-dash line, Award, the Philippines, China, The South China Sea.

First, it must have been long used by the State. Such usage includes all activities of natural resource management, exploitation, conservation, etc., and maritime activities in the area, the most common of which are long-standing and frequent manual fishing activities.

Second, the use of maritime areas by States is made publicly available and widely recognized by others concerned. Such recognition is key to the relevant State's transparent and just possession, not by expansion and encroachment from maritime areas of other States. In International Law, recognition can be explicitly embodied through statements admitting or supporting the claimant or simply silence without objection (according to the principle of "silence gives consent"). This is a crucial factor to ensure the legal effect of the claim to establish a maritime area in "historic title", but it is also fraught with risk factors when the motivation to realize or not realize the recognition is entirely politically influenced.

It is vital to distinguish between maritime areas with "historic title", in general, and "historic waters" under UNCLOS. "Historic title" has a broader meaning than that of "historic waters"[1]. "Historic waters" are usually enclosed by and inside the baseline and governed by internal water legislation of States[2] [3]. As a result, the management and exploitation activities are the exclusive privileges of the coastal states. Meanwhile, maritime areas with historic title (historic rights) are not necessarily privileges reserved for the coastal states but are shared among the states concerned [10]. In the Fisheries Jurisdiction Case between the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany and Iceland, despite recognizing Iceland's exclusive fisheries jurisdiction, the Tribunal concluded that the concept of exclusive jurisdiction did not exclude all fishing activities of the States. The enjoyment by a coastal state of the exclusive right does not mean that it is free, unilaterally and arbitrarily to define the extent of this right.

It can be seen that, although "historic title" is relied on by some States in their maritime claims, there are certain limitations to its application when the claimed maritime area must be proven to be established through a long history, widely recognized and not exclusive as the rights of other States to such maritime area is required to be respected.

There are few provisions regarding "historic title" or historical elements in general in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. As stated above, "historic title" is most clearly defined in paragraph 5 of Article 7 to determine "historic waters" located inside the baseline of the coastal state: "Where the method of straight baselines is applicable under paragraph 1, account may be taken, in determining particular baselines, of economic interests peculiar to the region concerned, the reality and the importance of which are clearly evidenced by long usage". Paragraph 6 of Article 10 of the Convention also mentions the term "historic bay"[4] without clearly explaining what a "historic bay" is. According to international practice, so- called "historic bay" is often construed as a maritime area with a special geographical structure, deeply rooted in the mainland or a part of it attached to the continent, staying far away from international sea lanes, having special significance in terms of strategy, defense, security, economy, etc., for the coastal state. Historically, it has been possessed, exploited and used by the coastal state for a long time without any objection from other States. The legal status of historic bays is similar to that of internal waters of the coastal state.

For the delimitation of the territorial sea between States with opposite and adjacent coasts, Article 15 of UNCLOS states: "Where the coasts of two States are opposite or adjacent to each other, neither of the two States is entitled, failing agreement between them to the contrary, to extend its territorial sea beyond the median line every point of which is equidistant from the nearest points on the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial seas of each of the two States is measured. The above provision does not apply, however, where it is necessary by reason of historic title or other special circumstances to delimit the territorial seas of the two States in a way which is at variance therewith.

The determination of other States' rights in the traditional fishing areas of the archipelagic State is also referred to in Article 51, where the archipelagic State must respect and "recognize traditional fishing rights and other legitimate activities of the immediately adjacent neighboring States in certain areas falling within archipelagic waters and archipelagic State.". This demonstrates that States can claim traditional fishing rights by means of historic title even in the archipelagic waters of other States. Пример HTML-страницы

Overall, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea refers to the historic title and historic waters as bases for delimitation of maritime areas, but within a very limited scope of application and mainly related to the delimitation of internal waters and territorial seas. There has been no provision on the historic title that can serve as a basis for determining the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Any claim to the waters under sovereign rights based on historic title is, thus, deemed inconsistent with the provisions of UNCLOS[5].

  1. "Historic title" according to China's "nine-dash line" claim and purposes

In May 2009, China sent a note verbale to the UN Secretary- General and attached a map with nine dashes (also known as the "U-shaped line" or "cow's tongue") showing its claims to occupy almost the entire South China Sea as its "historic sea". This is the first time China's "cow's tongue" map has been officially announced to the world. Previously, despite several times appearing in some domestic maps, the nine-dash line has never been officially claimed worldwide by the Chinese government. It is even absent from China's important legal documents on maritime areas such as the Declaration on China's Territorial Sea 1958, China's Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone Law 1992, China's Declaration on the Baselines of the Territorial Sea 1996, and China's Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf 1998 and so on. According to Chinese scholars, the "nine-dash line" was first known on the map of islands in the South China Sea (so-called "Huanan" sea) published in 1948 by the Geographic Department, under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of China. The time of the nine-dash line's first appearance was deliberately said by some to be older to explain in favor of China. According to them, the nine-dash line was first drawn by a man named Hu Jinjie in 1914, and in December 1947 an official of the Republic of China named Bai Meichu copied it in a personal map to show his emotions when he heard that the French occupied and claimed sovereignty over Truong Sa in 1933. However, they also acknowledged the uncertainty as to whether Bai Meichu had sufficient understanding and knowledge of contemporary international law of the sea to draw this line. The nine-dash line originally had 11 dashes representing Dongsha (Pratas Islands), Xisha (Vietnam's Hoang Sa (Paracel) Archipelago), Nansha (Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelago), and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) Archipelagos occupying most of the South China Sea. However, in 1953, the 11-dash line was adjusted to the nine-dash one as today after removing 2 dashes in the Gulf of Tonkin. It is noteworthy that there has been to date no document indicating the exact coordinates and location of the "nine-dash line"[6] [7]. No convincing evidence on China's continuous, peaceful and long- lasting exercise of its sovereignty over this vast sea has been provided. The Chinese feudal governments did not establish or maintain in their favor any monopoly in this sea, other than the elimination of the activities of the Hoang Sa and Bac Hai flotillas of the (Vietnamese) Nguyen dynasty. Although Chinese scholars support that the "nine-dash line" has existed for a long

  • No article of the Convention expressly provides for or permits the continued existence of historic rights to the living or non-living re­sources of the exclusive economic zone. Similarly, nothing in the Convention expressly provides for or permits a State to maintain his­toric rights over the living and non-living resources of the continental shelf, the high seas, or the Area. [Electronic resource]. - Access mode: https://pca-cpa.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/175/2016/07/PH- CN-20160712-Award.pdf - Page 100.
  • [Electronic resource]. - Access mode: http://www.maxreading. com/sach-hay/chu-quyen-viet-nam-tai-hoang-sa-va-truong-sa/ duong-luoi-bo-phi-ly-va-tham-vong-ba-chu-cua-trung-quoc-o-bien- dong-39877.html.

time without any objection, it has previously only appeared on a private map, not the one for other countries to discuss or comment on. Further, the 1951 San Francisco Conference also rejected China's claim of sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos. This indicates that China's "nine-dash line" claim has never been recognized by the international community, not to mention its contradiction with China's official position in its June 4, 1958 Declaration on China's Territorial Sea in which China clearly recognizes that the islands are separated from the mainland by the high seas, not by historic waters. The Chinese Law on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone 1992 states only the claim to 12 nm territorial sea around the claimed sovereign lands and 12 nm contiguous zone for tariff and similar purposes rather than delimiting "historic waters" [9]. It is, thus, obvious the historic title relied on by China is completely invalid.

It is, thus, unreasonable to say that China is unaware of its claims' violation of the international law of the sea. What is their purpose when intentionally ignoring international law and engaging in increasing activities to realize the "nine-dash line" in the South China Sea? Considering the case in relation to the above-analyzed "historic title", it can be figured out that although "historic title" cannot be the basis for China's nine- dash line claim in the past, it will leave no stone unturned in its effort to create a new "historic title" for this sea in the future, when a wide range of "long usage" activities have been initiated from now on. Additionally, China believes that by its rise, there will be increasingly countries (especially those without relevant interests in this sea and receiving China's great economic support) stand by their side6. Besides, many countries despite not being economically dependent on China will follow the policy of neutrality by remaining silent, which inadvertently creates a historic title for China under the principle of "silence gives consent". Currently, apart from those directly affected in the region such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, many other major countries (e.g., Australia, the US, and the EU) also openly oppose China's claims. These unilateral and national interest-based objections do not, however, represent that of the entire world community, and are not effective enough to prevent China's intention to monopolize the waters in the region.

  1. July 12, 2016 Award of the International Arbitral Tribunal for the Law of the Sea - an effective objection to nullify China's "historic title" in the South China Sea

Upon multiple unsuccessful diplomatic negotiations, the Philippine government decided to bring the dispute with China to an international arbitral tribunal in January 2013. China rejected the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal to handle the case initiated by the Philippines on the grounds that the main issues related to sovereignty were beyond the governing scope of UNCLOS. However, on October 29, 2015, the International Arbitral Tribunal for the Law of the Sea concluded that it holds jurisdiction to consider seven of the 15 submissions made by the Philippines against China.

On July 12, 2016, the International Arbitral Tribunal for the Law of the Sea officially ruled against China's nine-dash line. The award mainly focused on four matters: historic rights and the nine-dash line; legal status of structures; the legitimacy of China's acts; and acts harmful to the marine environment.

Regarding historic rights and the nine-dash line, the Arbitral Tribunal ruled that it has jurisdiction to consider the dispute between the parties related to historic rights and the source of entitlement to maritime zones in the South China Sea. In terms of substantive content, the Tribunal concluded that the Convention comprehensively provided for the rights to maritime areas and that the protection of rights that existed before the Convention in relation to resources was considered, but they were not ratified and set forth in the Convention. Accordingly, the Tribunal concluded that within the scope of China's historic rights to resources in the maritime areas of the South China Sea, these rights were removed as they were inconsistent with the exclusive economic zone regulations in the Convention. Also according to the Tribunal, although seafarers, as well as fishermen from China and other countries, have historically used the islands in the South China Sea, there is no evidence on China's single-handedly exercised control over this water area and its resources in history. The Tribunal, thus, figured that there is no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources in the maritime areas inside the nine-dash line."[8].

It can be said that this award has historical significance, affirming that international law is an important basis for addressing disputes in an effective and peaceful way. Additionally, the award demonstrates the equality of countries to the law, in terms of rights and obligations, regardless of the size. Although the provisions of the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea do not specify a mechanism to enforce the award, and China has still insisted on denying the validity of the award, heavily political and diplomatic pressures on China are forcing it to make changes in the future. One thing is for sure, from now on, China can no longer refer to "historic title" to assert its nine-dash line claim in the future as the award of the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under the Convention to settle disputes and make judgements under the international law is considered the strongest representation of international law. The award notifying the "nine-dash line" claim is the official and effective objection of the international community, thereby stopping China's intention to create a new "historic title" in this area. This is an essential legal victory beneficial not only to the Philippines but also to all relevant countries, including Vietnam.

НГУЕН Тхи Ван Хуен
старший преподаватель Факультета международного права Хошиминского городского юридического университета

ЧАН Тхань Тхао
аспирант кафедры уголовного права, уголовного процесса и криминалистики Российского университета дружбы народов, старший преподаватель Хошиминского городского юридического университета

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