Upholding international law key to nation`s diplomacy: Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla amid India-China border row

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New Delhi: Amid the India-China border row, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Saturday (November 21, 2020) while speaking at the 3rd Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) - India Conference highlighted how upholding of international law is key to nation's diplomacy.

Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said, "As a strong proponent of a peaceful and rules-based international legal order, it is no surprise that India supports the PCA and its mandate to resolve international disputes. The upholding of international law is central to our diplomacy and in fact our world view."

The comments come even as India's neighbor China has stood out in disregarding international law, including rejecting PCA's own award. China had rejected the award of a tribunal set up under the PCA in the Philippines vs China case of 2016. 

The tribunal rejected China's claim to the south China sea based on the so-called "nine-dash line". 

The arbitral tribunal has been constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 at PCA.

India on the other hand has availed the services of the Hague-based court and resolved international disputes with other countries. Well-known examples include Kishenganga Arbitration with Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty, the Maritime Boundary delimitation with Bangladesh, and the Italian Marines case.

Shringla lauded its role saying, "Institutions such as the Permanent Court of Arbitration have assisted us and have played a pivotal role in ensuring that peace among nations is maintained, through a civilized and principled settlement of disputes."

He added, "Since its establishment, the PCA has handled many politically significant and interesting cases. It has become a premier institution and first choice for the resolution of international disputes involving States, State entities, Inter-Governmental Organizations as well as private entities."

During the meet, Chief Justice of India Justice SA Bobde, Justice Indu Malhotra, Secretary-General, Permanent Court of Arbitration Hugo Siblesz, Chairperson of the PCA-India Conference Committee Fali Nariman, India's envoy to Netherlands Venu Rajamony, and Justice Dalveer Bhandari of International Court of Justice  were also present. Justice Bhandari is the only Indian member of the International Court of Justice.

Notably, the Permanent Court of Arbitration was established in 1899 and India became its member in 1950. In 1998, India and PCA entered into Host Country Agreement, under which PCA-administered proceedings can be conducted in India. New Delhi under its new Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) has the Secretary-General of the PCA as the appointing authority, for arbitrations under the treaty.

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