Arbitration Support Tracker
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New AMTI Feature: 
Arbitration Support Tracker

A final ruling is expected soon from a tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague hearing Manila’s case against Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. How many countries recognize the decision as legally binding on both parties and call for it to be respected will determine its ultimate value, as international pressure is the court’s only enforcement mechanism. In an effort to deflect that pressure, Chinese officials and state media have been trumpeting the number of countries that have voiced support for Beijing’s position that the tribunal lacks jurisdiction in the case and the ruling is therefore invalid. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that number has climbed to 60, but has not provided a list of the countries or, in most cases, evidence for their support.

Arbitration Support Tracker (as of Thursday June 16, 2016)-

Publicly Supporting China’s Position that Arbitral Tribunal is Illegitimate Has Not Publicly Confirmed China’s Claim of Support Publicly Denied China’s Claim of Support Publicly Supporting Outcome of Arbitral Proceeding as Binding
Afghanistan Algeria* Cambodia Australia
Gambia Bahrain* Fiji Canada
Kenya Bangladesh Slovenia European Union
Lesotho Belarus   France
Niger Bosnia & Herzegovina   Germany
Sudan Brunei   Italy
Togo Burundi   Japan
Vanuatu Comoros*   New Zealand
  Djibouti*   United Kingdom
  Egypt*   United States
  Eritrea   Vietnam
  Saudi Arabia*    
  Sierra Leone    
  United Arab Emirates*    
  *Members of the Arab League. China claims support based on a joint declaration following the Seventh Ministerial Meeting of the China-Arab Cooperation Forum, but the statement does not appear to be publicly available.    

AMTI has scoured publicly available, official statements in an effort to determine the real positions taken by countries. To-date, we have identified 50 countries that appear to be included in China’s list of supporters. Of those, 8 have publicly confirmed their support, 3 have denied Beijing’s claim of support, and 39 have remained publicly silent or have issued statements that are considerably vaguer than indicated by China. In contrast, 9 countries plus the European Union have said that the arbitral award will be legally binding and have called on both China and the Philippines to respect it.

Support for China’s position is defined here as an explicit public statement that 1) the arbitral tribunal lacks jurisdiction or legitimacy; 2) the right of states to choose their own method of dispute resolution should be respected (and therefore compulsory dispute mechanisms such as the tribunal are invalid); or 3) the right of states to exempt certain types of disputes from compulsory settlement as provided for by article 298 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea should be respected (which China claims invalidates the arbitral proceedings because they actually touch upon boundary delimitation, from which it has exempted itself).

AMTI will endeavor to keep this list constantly updated. If you believe we have overlooked or misinterpreted the statements of any countries, please email



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