SINGAPORE: Law of the Sea disputes can now be heard in Singapore as it agreed to provide facilities for an international tribunal to preside over such cases in the country.
Singapore's Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam and President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) Paik Jin-Hyun signed the agreement on Thursday (Jun 11) in a virtual ceremony, said the Law Ministry and ITLOS in a joint press release.
The seat of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is in Hamburg, Germany, and Singapore became the first external country where the tribunal or its chambers may sit and exercise its functions.
"We are honoured to have the opportunity to host Tribunal hearings and thus contribute to the important work of the Tribunal,” said Mr Shanmugam.
“The Model Agreement reaffirms Singapore’s commitment to the international rule of law and the peaceful settlement of disputes and is an endorsement of Singapore as a neutral venue for the effective settlement of international disputes.”
Judge Paik thanked the Singapore Government for its cooperation and providing "a viable venue for proceedings", adding that the current COVID-19 pandemic has led to the tribunal being more innovative and using technology to overcome worldwide restrictions.
The agreement signed on Thursday establishes the terms and conditions of Singapore providing facilities for the tribunal, following a 2015 joint declaration which expressed support for Singapore becoming a potential venue for the tribunal's proceedings.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to hear any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS.
Singapore became a party to UNCLOS in 1994.
There are currently 168 parties to UNCLOS, which comprise 167 states and the European Union.