I have been learning about conflicts in the South China Sea involving China. I remember when the Philippines led an arbitration case against China and I still don't understand why an international court couldn't complete the case.

Is it possible that this case could still result in some kind of punishment for China under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)?

  • 1
    Which court are you thinking about? The International Court of Justice? The arbitral tribunal did apparently complete its work but it's in the nature of arbitration that it requires at least some level of consent from both parties to be effective. Arguably, even international courts require that. Also, the goal here (and in many ICJ border dispute cases) is not punishment for any past perceived wrongdoing but to help the parties resolve competing claims and converge on a common definition of borders and exclusive economic zones.
    – Relaxed
    Jul 20, 2020 at 7:59
  • It was the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. Related to Relaxed
    – Gregory
    Jul 20, 2020 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


In my opinion, no they won't be punished and to some extent, they CANNOT be punished at this point. They started out with small violations that went unnoticed and have now made it to this but the thing to be noted here is that they now have more influence over the world and punishing them isn't as easy as it would've been years ago.

Indeed the tribunal ruled that China’s nine-dash line is essentially illegal and without basis under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is at the core of modern maritime law and has been signed by over 160 nations (including China).

The treaty for instance grants exclusive economic zones (EEZs) to coastal nations extending 200 nautical miles from the shore baseline, giving them sole exploitation rights over all natural resources in that zone.

Hence even though they are doing a crime right in front of everyone, they won't be punished.

  • 1
    This answer is worth applying to any current question about Chinese behaviour. They will not be called on it because $$$
    – Jontia
    Jul 18, 2020 at 20:07
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    yep exactly, that's why most of the big economies ( the top 5-10 like the US, China, India, UK, France, and Japan ) and the ones that have huge investment in the interests of those big economies get away with these acts.
    – John Doe
    Jul 18, 2020 at 22:24
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    Is it an opinion or a fact? Jul 19, 2020 at 2:43
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    My reply is an observation drawn from the happenings. And as for my answer, those are concrete facts, you can look them up.
    – John Doe
    Jul 19, 2020 at 10:35
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    And as for my answer, those are concrete facts, you can look them up. Cite the references. Jul 19, 2020 at 12:02

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