Cohen made the recommendation in an interview granted to VOV online, following an international conference on the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, held in Danang on June 20-21.
Given the escalating tensions in the East Sea, Cohen said Vietnam should try to persuade China to resolve the matter diplomatically, in the interests of both sides and for the sake of regional peace.
China cannot expect to exploit natural resources in Vietnam’s the exclusive economic zone without resistance, he said.
According to the professor, if China refuses to sit at the negotiating table and intentionally continues its intimidation tactics, Vietnam has no choice but to use legal actions to deal with the matter.
|Professor Jerome Cohen suggested legal actions as a way to settle tensions in the East Sea
He suggested that Vietnam bring China to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to sue China for not conforming to the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to which China is a signatory.
Like the Philippines case, he said Vietnam can file a petition to the ICJ unilaterally without China’s recognition or regardless of its opposition.
Without Chinese involvement, the Vietnamese case will become more difficult, however it does show to the world that China defies Vietnam’s goodwill and neglects the peaceful settlement of the issue.
In March 2014 the Philippines filed a lawsuit rejecting China’s nine-dash line that covers more than 80% of the East Sea’s area, into the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague announced on June 3 that China once again did not recognise the suit and refuses to attend any related trial.
Whether Vietnam cooperates with the Philippines or sues China unilaterally depends on the current relationship between Vietnam and China. Considering the current tensions in the East Sea, the use of legal action against China is a rational way for Vietnam to respond, Cohen said.
He concluded that legal action is not the way to show off strength, but it is how to demonstrate justice.