Singapore acts to prevent unilateral third-party arbitration over maritime spat


  • Nation
  • Thursday, 13 Dec 2018

SINGAPORE (Bernama): Singapore has filed a declaration under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) to ensure that Malaysia does not unilaterally commence third-party arbitration or adjudication against the republic over their ongoing maritime boundary dispute.

Singapore, likewise, cannot unilaterally commence third-party arbitration or adjudication against Malaysia either.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said in a statement the Singapore government filed the declaration on Wednesday (Dec c12) under Article 298(1)(a) of Unclos. The MFA said Singapore has informed Malaysia that it has filed the declaration.

“This declaration means that other States Parties to Unclos cannot unilaterally commence third-party arbitration or adjudication against Singapore in respect of maritime boundary disputes.

“Singapore likewise cannot unilaterally commence third-party arbitration or adjudication against other States Parties for such disputes,” the MFA spokesman said in a statement responding to media queries on the declaration.

The spokesman said Singapore believes that maritime boundary delimitation disputes are best resolved through negotiations in order to reach an amicable settlement acceptable to all the parties.

However, the spokesman said, “If this cannot be achieved, Singapore is prepared to settle such a dispute by recourse to an appropriate international third-party dispute settlement procedure, on terms mutually agreed to by the parties”.

The MFA said that “should a dispute arise that cannot be resolved through negotiations, Singapore will work with the other States Parties to agree on the choice of forum and the specific issues to be decided, in order that the matter can be submitted to arbitration or adjudication.

“This is preferable to one party taking another unilaterally to arbitration or adjudication, without prior mutual agreement on these key issues,” it said.

According to the MFA, many States Parties to Unclos, such as France, Canada, Italy, Spain, Australia and Thailand, have made similar declarations.

Representatives of Singapore and Malaysia are scheduled to meet in the second week of January 2019 to discuss and exchange views on their ongoing maritime boundary dispute.

“Singapore hopes that by engaging each other, the two governments will reach a swift and amicable resolution, in accordance with international law,” the MFA said.

It also said that “Singapore remains committed to peaceful settlement of disputes”.

“Singapore will continue to uphold international law and remains committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.”

Singapore and Malaysia are involved in a maritime border row, with the former claiming that Malaysia's extension of its Johor Baru port limits has encroached into the republic's territorial waters off Tuas. – Bernama

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