On 22 January 2013, the Philippines officially notified China that it had instituted arbitral proceedings against China under Annex VII of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This paper will examine the role of UNCLOS and international law in the South China Sea disputes and will focus in particular on the significance of the case instituted by the Philippines. It will explain the legal issues raised by the Philippines’ Statement of Claim. It will analyse the possible impact of the case on the disputes concerning maritime claims in the South China Sea, including China’s claim to rights and jurisdiction in the maritime space inside the infamous nine-dash line on the Chinese map of the South China Sea.
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