Five years ago today, an Arbitral Tribunal established in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) reached a clear and unanimous decision on the South China Sea arbitration between the Philippines and China.
It found that China’s claim to ‘historic rights’ or ‘maritime rights and interests’ established in the ‘long course of historical practice’ in the South China Sea were inconsistent with UNCLOS and, to the extent of that inconsistency, invalid.
The Australian Government has consistently called on the parties to the arbitration to abide by the Tribunal’s decision, which is final and binding on both China and the Philippines.
Our position is guided by our principled support for international law and UNCLOS. UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. It contains clear rules that apply to all countries for maritime claims, the lawful uses of maritime spaces, including freedom of navigation and overflight, and the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Adherence to international law is fundamental to the continuing peace, prosperity and stability of our region. It allows all states – big and small – to resolve disputes peacefully.
Australia will continue to support the right of all countries to seek to resolve disputes peacefully and in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS.