Asia and International Law

Other Areas of International Law – Economic turbulence ahead: Aviation safety in Southeast Asia (Global Risk Insights, 27 August 2015)

The spate of air disasters raises the question of whether it is safe to fly in Southeast Asia. The past decade has seen unprecedented regional economic growth. This in turn has seen the airline industry thrive, with a burgeoning number of low-cost air carriers emerging. Statistics by the International Air Transport Association suggest that the region now accounts for 33% of global air passenger traffic, and this is expected to grow to 42% in the next two decades. Airline expansion and increased air traffic through Southeast Asia has placed a strain on pilots, regulators, air traffic control systems, and airport infrastructure. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has no regional agency to oversee aviation safety. According to professor of aviation law, Alan Khee-Jin Tan, regional states “need to make technical harmonization a priority”. A 2014 International Civil Aviation Organisation report claimed that a third of airplane accidents in the Asia-Pacific region between 2008 and 2012 “involved deficiencies in regulatory oversight”, with another 27% involving “deficiencies in safety management”.

Law of the Sea – Philippines seeks US help in South China Sea dispute (Asia One, 27 August 2015)
The Philippines has sought help from the United States to monitor "real-time" developments in the South China Sea, providing surveillance and reconnaissance, a military spokesman said on Thursday, amid China's rapid expansion in the area.
Law of the Sea – ITLOS orders parties to suspend all court proceedings which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal (ITLOS Press Release 237, 24 August 2015)

The 21-member International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has asked India and Italy to "both suspend all court proceedings and shall refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal ITLOS/Press 237 24 August 2015 4 or might jeopardize or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render”.

International Economic Law – Malaysia backs China over Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

Malaysia fully supports China's setting up of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that will rival the US-led World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The US$100bil (S$140bil) AIIB will fund development projects that promote connectivity and economic integration in Asia. China's former deputy finance minister Jin Liqun has been named president-elect of the bank. Japan and the United States were among the countries that opted out of the initiative.

International Economic Law – EU failed to comply after losing China screws dispute, WTO says (Reuters, 7 August 2015)

The European Union failed to make amends after losing a dispute brought to the World Trade Organization by China over EU anti-dumping duties on Chinese bolts and screws, a WTO dispute panel ruled. China originally complained about the duties in 2009 and won its case in 2011. It went back to the WTO in 2013, complaining that the EU, which had only marginally reduced the duties, had not done enough to comply with the ruling against it.

Human Rights – Vietnam Grants Amnesty to More Than 18,000 Prisoners (AP, 28 August 2015)

Vietnam has granted amnesty to more than 18,000 prisoners to mark the 70th anniversary of independence from France, but authorities said Friday they do not include anyone convicted of national security crimes. Vice Foreign Minister Ha Kim Ngoc said that there were 34 foreigners are among those to be released — 16 from China, six from Malaysia, six from Laos and two from Australia.

Human Rights – UN food relief now reaching more than 400,000 flood victims in Myanmar (UN News, 26 August 2015)

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is now delivering rice, beans, cooking oil and salt to more than 400,000 people affected by flooding in Myanmar and “reachable only on foot, after floods and landslides destroyed roads across the country,” the agency said. More than 1.7 million people in Myanmar have been affected by widespread flooding and landslides as a result of heavy monsoon rains since early August. The WFP said it is appealing for $12.3 million urgently required to meet flood needs.

Human Rights – Avoid brute force in Myanmar politics (Straits Times, 26 August 2015)
For a tentative democracy such as Myanmar's, this month's battle of wills between Myanmar President Thein Sein and his archrival Shwe Mann bodes ill for the country's evolution from a military-dominated nation, where might is right, to one where law emerges not from superior force but from the power of public opinion. Regression to the habits of the past would be regrettable, given the advances that Myanmar has made, both internally and in international support for it, since its break with political autocracy and economic isolation. They need to understand that the results of the popular will have to be respected once the democratic process has begun. Strong-arm tactics merely delay the inevitable.
Law of the Sea – Marines case: India to contest Italy's decision in ITLOS (Zee News, 26 July 2015)
India will contest the Italian government's decision to the take the matter of two of its marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago, to the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany. The hearing is in the second week of August. Earlier, during hearing in the Indian Supreme Court on July 13, Italy had made a plea before the court saying it has invoked international arbitration challenging India's jurisdiction to try two of its marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago. Narasimha had told the apex court bench, headed by Justice A R Dave, that India, being a signatory to the International Convention, would participate in these arbitration proceedings.
Law of the Sea – UNCLOS tribunal to rule on PHL-China sea row jurisdiction within the year (GMA News, 14 July 2015)
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague said it will make a crucial ruling on whether it can assume jurisdiction over the Philippines’ legal challenge against China over the South China Sea within the year and gave Beijing another chance to give its side in one month. “The Arbitral Tribunal now enters its deliberations and is conscious of its duty under the Rules of Procedure to conduct proceedings ‘to avoid unnecessary delay and expense and to provide a fair and efficient process,’” the PCA said in a statement issued at the end of the oral arguments on July 13. “The Arbitral Tribunal will endeavor to issue its decision on such issues of Jurisdiction and Admissibility that it determines appropriate as soon as possible and expects to do so before the end of the year,” it added. It also said that it could rule on jurisdiction either in “some or all” of the arguments raised by the Philippines. “In the event that the Arbitral Tribunal determines that it has jurisdiction over some or all of the Philippines' claims, it will then proceed to a hearing on the merits,” the PCA said.
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