Statement by Mr K Shanmugam SC, Minister for Law, at the Adoption Ceremony for the Singapore-ITLOS Model Agreement
11 Jun 2020 Posted in Speeches
Your Excellency Judge Jin-Hyun Paik, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
Registrar of the Tribunal, Ms Ximena Hinrichs Oyarce,
Ladies and gentlemen,
- On 31 August 2015, Singapore and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) signed a Joint Declaration for Singapore to provide appropriate facilities in the event the Tribunal or a special chamber of the Tribunal sits or exercises its functions in Singapore.
- Today, it is our honour and privilege to adopt this model agreement with the President of the Tribunal, His Excellency Judge Jin-Hyun Paik. This covers situations when a case is to be heard by the Tribunal or a Chamber of the Tribunal in Singapore. States will now have the option of having their disputes heard by the Tribunal or a Chamber of the Tribunal in Singapore.
- We are honoured that Singapore is the first country to have a model agreement for proceedings before the Tribunal or a Chamber of the Tribunal to take place outside of the Tribunal's headquarters.
- The adoption of the model agreement builds on our efforts to support the work of this honourable Tribunal, and as I said earlier, it started with the signing of the Joint Declaration five years ago.
- The model agreement reaffirms Singapore's commitment to the international rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes, and is also an endorsement of Singapore as a neutral venue for the effective settlement of international disputes. Let me say a few words more on this.
Commitment to the international rule of law
- Singapore has always been a strong proponent of the international rule of law and multilateralism, particularly in matters relating to the law of the sea.
- We have a very active participation in international fora on matters relating to the law of the sea. Singapore was active in the negotiation of UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), where Ambassador Tommy Koh was elected as President of the third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, which concluded the negotiations on UNCLOS. Minister-Counsellor Mrs Rena Lee from the Hague Diplomatic Office of Singapore is the incumbent President of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.
Peaceful settlement of disputes
- One of the key elements of the international rule of law is the peaceful settlement of disputes.
- This Tribunal plays a vital role in upholding international rule of law, by providing a peaceful means for settling disputes between States. The Tribunal was established to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of UNCLOS, and your decisions have been important in such issues as maritime delimitation and freedom of navigation. The Tribunal's decisions have contributed to the maintenance of peace and stability in the world's oceans and seas.
- This model agreement with the Tribunal will provide States with greater access to the Tribunal.
Dispute settlement venue
- The adoption of the model agreement, as I said earlier, also affirms Singapore's position as a neutral venue for the settlement of international disputes. We are currently a leading venue for the settlement of commercial as well as State-to-State disputes. We host international dispute resolution institutions, including the Singapore Office of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration). We also provide facilities for the hearing of cases administered by ICSID (the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes).
- With the model agreement, we strengthen what we can offer as a neutral venue for the resolution of State-to-State disputes.
- The adoption of this agreement is another milestone in Singapore's efforts to support the work of the Tribunal and demonstrates our commitment.
- We are honoured to have the opportunity to host Tribunal hearings and contribute to this important work. We celebrate the adoption of the model agreement via videoconference. That is because of the COVID-19 situation. We warmly invite the President of the Tribunal to visit Singapore, when the situation permits.
- Thank you.
Last updated on 11 Jun 2020