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Asia and International Law

 
Other Areas of International Law – Crack international law team to join in China’s hunt for fugitives (South China Morning Post, 5 May 2015)
 
Beijing is building a team of experts on international law to help repatriate fugitives abroad and tackle its territorial disputes with neighbouring countries. The foreign ministry established an international law committee earlier this year, emphasising Beijing's hopes of advancing its interests through treaties and legal provisions. The committee comprises 15 scholars and experts. These include: Shi Jiuyong, a former judge at the International Court of Justice; Rao Geping, a law professor at Peking University; Huang Jin, president of the China University of Political Science and Law; and Liu Nanlai, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Observers said China urgently needed to improve its study of international law as Beijing stepped up its anti-corruption campaign by targeting fugitives abroad. Beijing's flexing of its muscles in territorial disputes, particularly in the South China Sea, provides further impetus to study international law. Wu Shicun, president of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, said China was seeking to justify its territorial claims through legal means and needed more experts to do so.
 
Law of the Sea – America's Dangerous South China Sea Gamble (The Diplomat, 23 May 2015)
 

The idea that the United States may send military aircraft and ships to assert freedom of navigation around Chinese claimed islands in the South China Sea is seriously bad. It’s bad because it would involve an unreasonably assertive interpretation of the international law of the sea, and because it shows such little regard for the impact of such action on regional stability. There are three main implications of the U.S. proposal that concern the law of the sea. The first is the status of China’s claims to the disputed islands. The second issue is the oft-stated line from Washington that China threatens the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The last law of the sea issue arises from reports that the options being considered in Washington include sending aircraft and ships within 12 nautical miles of the reefs and islands occupied by China. The action contemplated by the United States looks like a dangerously unilateral assertion of rights by Washington. What’s even more worrying is that the US, as a non-party to UNCLOS, may be ignoring some of the convention’s carefully balanced outcomes between the rights of coastal States and those of major maritime powers.

See also:

South China Sea: The One-Move Chess Player (The Diplomat, 25 May 2015)

China and 'might makes right' at sea (Straits Times, 27 May 2015)

 
International Economic Law – Agreement on Articles of Agreement milestone for establishment of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (Xinhua, 23 May 2015)
 

The 5th Chief Negotiators' Meeting on establishing the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) concluded its May discussion with an agreement being reached on the Articles of Agreement (AOA) and a decision being made that the signing of the AOA take place at the end of June in Beijing. Though representatives of founding members didn't reveal many details such as equity allocation, approval process and whether China has veto power after the close-door meeting, Shi Yaobin, Vice Minister of Chinese Ministry of Finance and Permanent Chair of the Chief Negotiators' Meeting, told Xinhua that the planned authorized capital of AIIB will be allocated based on GDP data for Asian countries. "The planned authorized capital of the AIIB is US$100 billion, which will be allocated based upon GDP data for Asian countries. As for countries outside the region, GDP is also an important criterion for allocation." said Shi in an interview with Xinhua after the meeting. The media had speculated that the AIIB would copy the IMF practice of allocation based on GDP and capital. Research done by the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP) showed that China (30.85%) will be the largest shareholder in the AIIB, followed by India (10.4%), Indonesia (3.99%), Germany (3.96%) and South Korea (3.93%) if Asian countries account for 75% of the shares and allocation is based on the rule that GDP accounts for 60% while purchasing power parity (PPP) weighs about 40%.

 
Human Rights – Myanmar’s New Family-Planning Law Seen as Targeted at Rohingya (Wall Street Journal, 23 May 2015)
 

The plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya people could be set to worsen after President Thein Sein signed into law a new family planning measure which activists fear could target vulnerable minorities. Foreign governments in recent days have cranked up pressure on Myanmar’s government to do more to prevent the exodus of the Rohingya, whom the United Nations describes as one of the world’s most persecuted minorities. The U.N. believes thousands are stranded in the Bay of Bengal, abandoned by human traffickers after they tried to buy passage to other Southeast Asian countries. In recent weeks over 3,000 Rohingya as well as migrants from neighboring Bangladesh have made their way to shore in Malaysia and Indonesia. But rather than assuaging deep-seated concerns of the Rohingya about their future in Myanmar, the Population Control Health Care Act is raising questions among human rights activists about whether it will be used to limit population growth among Muslim communities—especially the Rohingya. Human rights groups and health monitors say that the government was already enforcing a two-child policy in parts of northern Rakhine state, where the Muslim population outweighs that of the Buddhist one, and fear that the new law will make it easier to enforce abortions and birth control.

 
Human Rights – Malaysian FM Anifah insists ASEAN speaks out for Rohingya despite non-interference policy (Malay Mail Online, 24 May 2015)
 
Malaysia and other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members have urged Myanmar to resolve its Rohingya issue as the association’s non-interference policy does not mean silence, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has said. Anifah also said that US Secretary of State John Kerry told him that America will provide financial aid to agencies such as the United Nations refugee agency, but the amount was not revealed.
 
Human Rights – UN and partners launch $415 million appeal to aid quake-stricken Nepal (UN News, 29 April 2015)
 

The United Nations has launched a $415 million emergency appeal to provide vital relief to people affected by the devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the densely populated Kathmandu Valley in Nepal on Saturday, killing at least 5,000, injuring at least 10,000 more. The joint action plan aims to support Government efforts in addressing the most critical needs of millions of people in need of shelter, water and sanitation, emergency health, food, and protection for the next three months, after the tremor and many powerful aftershocks destroyed around 70,000 houses and damaged another 530,000 across 39 of Nepal’s 75 districts.The so-called Flash Appeal reflects both the scale of the needs and the significant logistical challenges linked to providing an effective large-scale humanitarian response in hard-to-reach, mountainous areas.

 
Human Rights – Welcoming Myanmar’s visible strides, Ban says ‘much more hard work lies ahead’ (UN News, 24 April 2015)
 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the positive direction of its reform process as it continues on its “path of historic transition”, but emphasized that more work remains to be done to address the country’s myriad challenges. “The country has taken visible strides in many areas of socio-economic development, national reconciliation and democratization,” Mr. Ban said at the Partnership Group on Myanmar, emphasizing that the reform process initiated by the Government of President U Thein Sein continues to progress steadily. The general elections due to be held by year’s end will be an important milestone and conducting them in a credible and inclusive manner, will require long-term engagement by all. In that regard, the Government must ensure free assembly, an open atmosphere for the media and the protection of civil and political rights for all. “However, much more hard work lies ahead. It will be important that the ceasefire agreement is signed and sealed without delay,” he said, emphasizing that the agreement is only a first step towards a broader national dialogue on important issues such as the role of military and constitutional reform.

 
Human Rights – Geoffrey Robertson calls on Australian government to use international law to save Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran (Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 2015)
 

Leading human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson has called on the Australian government to take immediate action under international law to try to prevent the imminent executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Speaking at a vigil in Sydney, he said death row experiences were often a matter of last-minute reprieves and that Australia should make clear the consequences for Indonesia if the executions went ahead. He told the crowd of more than 500 that Australian diplomats in Geneva should "demand an emergency session of the [United Nations] Human Rights Council to hold Indonesia responsible for breaching international law".

 
International Economic Law – Japan, US agree to boost global alliance reach in security, trade (Jakarta Post, 30 April 2015)
 

Japan and the United States have agreed to boost their alliance through increased defense cooperation to contribute to peace and prosperity beyond the Asia-Pacific region at a time of growing Chinese military might and the looming threat of a nuclear North Korea. “We recognize that the security and prosperity of our two countries in the 21st century is intertwined, inseparable, and not defined solely by national borders,” according to a joint statement released after a summit between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Barack Obama at the White House. The two nations were also on the same page on the importance of swiftly concluding a US-led Pacific free trade framework, apparently in the face of the growing influence of China. Standing alongside Abe, Obama said that with the new guidelines, Japanese and US forces will be “more flexible and better prepared to cooperate on a range of challenges from maritime security to disaster response” in the Asia-Pacific region.

 
International Economic Law – ASEAN: Stronger Thrust Needed To Eliminate Non-tariff-barriers (Bernama, 29 April 2015)
 

There is a need for a stronger thrust by ASEAN leaders to ensure non-tariff-barriers are eliminated to achieve meaningful regional integration, says the ASEAN Business Club (ABC). President, Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid said expectations are high for the ASEAN Economic Community's (AEC) formation by year-end, and the ABC will conduct a business forum in May. It will be part of the final push for integration and a platform to dissect sector-based issues hindering free and fair trade in ASEAN. The ABC is organizing the 3rd Annual ASEAN Business Club Forum themed, “Road to ASEAN Integration" on May 14 in Singapore. Munir said the ABC would freely share the gap analysis and its latest findings, based on the forum. The ABC is an association of chief executives of ASEAN's business enterprises and one of the first regional business clubs. Its aim is to achieve regional integration via the forum by bringing together ASEAN's top business leaders to network, collaborate and play a leading role in the ASEAN economic integration process.

 
 
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