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the arbitration was initiated under a section of UNCLOS entitled “Compulsory

Procedures Entailing Binding Decisions.” Although the tribunal cannot directly enforce the
ruling, it remains the authoritative statement on China’s legal responsibility in this dispute.

The final misconception is China’s assertion that it can legally ignore this ruling because the
tribunal misinterpreted UNCLOS when it affirmed its jurisdiction. This premise turns a defendant into
his own judge, and diminishes the value of negotiating treaties with strong dispute settlement
provisions. That is the rationale underlying the principle—found in customary practice and explicitly
in UNCLOS—that such decision making authority rests with the tribunal alone.