‘Differences among Asian countries are wide and complex’
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea judge Patibandla Chandrasekhara Rao on Friday said there were several maritime issues involving India, Pakistan, Oman, Sri Lanka, and efforts would be made to address the issues if the disputing States approached the tribunal.
Speaking at the Bezwada Bar Association, after a felicitation function, Mr. Rao, who worked as the Union Law Secretary in the regimes of six Prime Ministers, said the tribunal could not act suo motu.
“The tribunal has successfully resolved maritime issues involving Myanmar and Bangladesh. It also addressed the tuna fish tangle involving Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and an issue between Singapore and Malaysia. We came out with a permanent solution when India and Bangladesh had a maritime boundary skirmish in Bay of Bengal,” Mr. Rao pointed out.
He said the maritime issues needed care and deft handling, as some time they involved revenue that ran into several billions of dollars.
Mr. Rao said Europe was moving in a more organised manner and even an individual could approach an international court seeking justice.
“It is not possible in Asia, as the differences among Asian countries are wide and complex. They (the countries) are busy blaming each other and most of the issues attract bilateral talks.”
He said 21 judges from all over the world formed the International Tribunal for the Law of Sea and five from Asia – India, China, Japan, Korea and Lebanon – were elected for a period of nine years. The candidate should be an expert in the international law and law for sea. The judges will elect the chief justice among themselves.
Incidentally, Mr. Rao served the tribunal as Chief Justice from 1999 to 2002.
Mr. Rao said the international justice system was undergoing a change as the focus was on creating various specialised tribunals to meet the ever-increasing challenges. “The international justice system deals with issues not with the nations,” he clarified.
Senior lawyer Karnati Rammohan Rao hailed Mr. Rao, a native of Veerlapadu mandal in Krishna district, for his contribution to the legal profession, especially to international and constitutional law.
Mr. Rao also authored books such as like New Law of Maritime Zones (1982), The Indian Constitution and International Law (1993), and The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea: Law and Practice (2000).
Several lawyers, including members of the Bezwada Bar Association, attended the function.