United Nations stresses separation from Hague tribunal

The Permanent Court of Arbitration rents space in the same building as the UN’s International Court of Justice, but the two organisations are not related

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 2:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 July, 2016, 2:04am

The United Nations clarified on its Chinese microblog yesterday that the tribunal that ruled against China’s historic claims over the disputed South China Sea was not a UN agency.

The statement came amid apparent public misunderstanding of the tribunal’s operations.

The UN said the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, which issued the decision on the case on Tuesday, operated out of the same building, the Peace Palace, as the UN’s primary justice branch, the International Court of Justice, but the two agencies were unrelated.

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“The UN makes donations to the Carnegie Foundation (the building’s owner) every year for using the building,” the UN post said.

“Another renter of the Peace Palace is the Permanent Court of Arbitration established in 1899, but [it] has nothing to do with the UN.”

The post came a day after the tribunal dismissed China’s sweeping claims to contested waters in the South China Sea, adding that it violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights by building artificial islands and caused irreparable harm to the coral reef ecosystem.

China has long claimed almost all of the South China Sea, including reefs and islands that also claimed by other Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

The Chinese government reacted angrily to Tuesday’s decision, calling the ruling invalid.

Some internet users also lashed out at the UN, apparently thinking the international body was linked to the tribunal.

“When we make such sacrifices to keep peace, a subsidiary of the UN makes a ruling against China’s sovereign rights. So what do you want to do?” a Chinese microblogger wrote in response to a UN post after the ruling was ­announced.

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China was a founding member of the United Nations in 1945 and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with the United States, Britain, France and Russia.

China has pledged to be more engaged in the UN, and is the second-biggest contributor to the organisation’s peacekeeping operations, paying 10.2 per cent of the UN’s peacekeeping operations budget.

Established by treaty, the Permanent Court of Arbitration is an intergovernmental organisation that provides various dispute resolution services to the international community, according to its official website.