PH vs. China: Who are the judges of the Arbitral Tribunal?

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — On Tuesday, a panel of judges at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague will hand down its ruling on the Philippines' case against China’s claims over virtually the entire South China Sea.

Summing up the arguments of the Philippines, Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio — a member of the Philippine delegation to The Hague — said Beijing's "nine-dash line" is void.

The "nine-dash line" is China’s purported historical boundary that covers about 85 percent of the South China Sea, including 80 percent of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the West Philippine Sea.

On January 22, 2013, Manila served Beijing with a Notification and Statement of Claim (NSC) pursuant to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). After over three years of legal proceedings, the arbitral tribunal will hand down its decision on Tuesday.

The Philippines stand has been expressed many times by former President Benigno Aquino III and former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario: “What is ours is ours.”

Beijing has refused to accept and participate in the proceedings. It said the maritime dispute should be settled by China and the Philippines in bilateral talks.

The ruling will be issued by the five-member arbitral tribunal composed of international law judges from different countries:

Thomas Mensah (Ghana)

Jean-Pierre Cot (France)

Stanislaw Pawlak (Poland)

Alfred Soons (The Netherlands)

Rüdiger Wolfrum (Germany)

Under UNCLOS, the Philippines and China could each appoint one judge of their choice to the tribunal. The remaining three are appointed by agreement between the parties.

Manila chose Wolfrum as member of the panel. But because of Beijing's refusal to participate, and in accordance with UNCLOS rules, Shunji Yanai, then President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, appointed the four remaining judges in April 2013.

The Tribunal's President, Judge Thomas Mensah, was not part of Yanai's original selection. The former ITLOS president initially appointed Chris Pinto of Sri Lanka as head of the tribunal. Pinto stepped down a month after his appointment because he had a Filipino wife, former Department of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Raul Hernandez said.

UNCLOS requires all judges to be experienced in maritime affairs and "enjoy the highest reputation for fairness, competence and integrity."

Judge Thomas Mensah (President of the Arbitral Tribunal)

Mensah's career in international law spans decades. He joined the International Maritime Organization Secretariat in 1968 as the Director of its Legal Office in London. He left the IMO 1990 as the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the expanded Legal Affairs and External Relations Division. In 1996 he was appointed the first President of ITLOS, where he continued to serve as a judge until 2005.

Judge Jean-Pierre Cot

Cot has been a member of ITLOS since October 2002. From 2008 to 2011, he was President of the organization's Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes. Apart from being an international law judge, he has also served as a counsel and advocate in a number of cases before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Cot has taught international law at several universities in Europe, including the University of Paris and the University of Amiens. He was also an ad hoc judge in several cases of the ICJ.

Judge Stanislaw Pawlak

Before serving the international community, Pawlak worked for his home country as a negotiator for maritime issues with Poland's neighbors. From 1983 to 1988, he headed the Polish delegation in talks with then East Germany on delimitation of the countries' maritime boundary. In1985, he headed the Polish delegation in talks with the Soviet Union on the delimitation of the Polish-Soviet sea border. Pawlak has taught international law at various universities in the U.S., Canada, Syria, and Poland since 1967. He has been a member of ITLOS since October 2005.

Judge Alfred Soons

Soons is an international law scholar who has served as counsel and arbitrator in cases at the ICJ and arbitral tribunals. He became professor of public international law and director of the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS) at Utrecht University in 1987. Before that, he served in various legal and policy positions as a civil servant at the Netherlands Ministry of Transport, Water Management and Public Works.

Judge Rüdiger Wolfrum

The Philippines chose Wolfrum as a member of the tribunal. His decades-long academic career in international law includes teaching at different universities in the U.S. and Europe. He has been a member of ITLOS since 1996 and served as its president from 2005 to 2008. From 1997 to 1999, he was president of the ITLOS Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes. Wolfrum is currently a board member of the Max Planck Foundation on International Peace and Rule of Law.

CNN Philippines' Anjo Alimario, JC Gotinga, and Paolo Taruc contributed to this report.