International Law Expert Prof. Wolfrum Conducts Lecture on South China Sea Arbitral Award


Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. (left), delivered a message during the Lecture by Prof. Rüdiger Wolfrum (right) entitled “The South China Sea Arbitration: Unchartered Waters” held on 15 November 2021. (DFA-MOAO photo)

PASAY CITY, 26 November 2021 — Renowned jurist and international law expert Eminent Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Wolfrum concluded his lecture series on the West Philippine Sea and the Award with a virtual press briefing on 18 November 2021.

Prof. Dr. Wolfrum is the judge appointed by the Philippines to the Arbitral Tribunal that decided the landmark 2016 Award on the South China Sea Arbitration. He is also former President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and is Honorary Director of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law in Germany.

The lecture series was initiated by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., through the DFA’s Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office, in collaboration with the German Embassy in Manila, to promote understanding and awareness of the 2016 Arbitral Award and various maritime issues confronting the Philippines.

The Secretary praised Dr. Wolfrum, saying, “we owe to him the approach of higher abstraction that enabled the Panel to take on and decide the case in our favor and imparted universality to the decision, making it as it now is an imperishable part of international law.”

In his remarks, the Secretary stressed that “the Arbitral Award is — along with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea — the anchor of all the positions we take and can in honor take on the South China Sea.” He added that “the important contribution and relevance of UNCLOS dispute settlement system in the resolution of maritime disputes cannot be overemphasized.” 

“This is especially critical in light of attempts to dilute if not subvert the Arbitral Award; nay more, erase it from law, history, our collective memories, and our obligations as citizens of the Republic, as officials of the Philippine state.  That cannot happen unless we let it.  And we will not,” Secretary Locsin emphasized.

From 15 to 18 November 2021, Prof. Dr. Wolfrum engaged in discussions with personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs, including its Foreign Service Posts, members of the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea, students of international law and international relations, think tanks, and members of the diplomatic corps and press.

His discussions covered a range of issues including the procedural and substantive issues and methodology applied by the Arbitral Tribunal in rendering the two awards in the South China Sea arbitration; the contribution of the Award in strengthening the legal order of the seas, including on the regimes of fisheries, protection of the marine environment, and safety of navigation; and the continuing relevance of dispute settlement mechanisms established by the UN Convention on the Law Sea.

Together with an expert panel composed of Ambassador Gilberto Asuque, former Philippine Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization; Professor Doctor Suzette Suarez, Professor for Maritime Law at the HSB Hochschule Bremen;  and Professor Jay Batongbacal, Director of the Institute for Maritime Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the University of the Philippines Law Center, Prof. Dr. Wolfrum tackled the various pillars and nexus of maritime security, including jurisdiction, security from crimes at sea, safety of navigation, resource security, and environmental security.

The lecture series was also conducted in partnership with the Foreign Service Institute and the Ateneo Law School. END


Photo of some participants in the conversation with the Department of Foreign Affairs. (DFA-MOAO photo)


Photo of the main speakers of the webinar entitled “New Challenges to the Security of the Philippines from the Sea” held on 16 November 2016 in collaboration with the German Embassy in Manila and the Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Left to right, from top row: em. Prof. Dr. Dres. h.c. Rüdiger Wolfrum, keynote speaker; Mr. Edcel Ibarra, moderator; Prof. Dr. Suzette Suarez, discussant; Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel of the German Embassy in Manila, who delivered the closing remarks; Ambassador Gilberto Asuque, discussant; Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce of the DFA Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office, who delivered the opening remarks; and Prof. Jay Batongbacal, discussant. (DFA-MOAO photo)