Vietnam should prepare to take its case against China to the international court of justice, even though it has moved its Haiyang Shiyou 981 oil rig out of the country's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, the two-day conference held in Ho Chi Minh City heard on July 26.

Pierre Schifferli, deputy judge of the Court of Appeals in Geneva, said: "China has already moved its oil rig out of Vietnam. But it's not the end of the story."

"All the documents of the past presented in front of the Reunification Palace today show it is clear that the right of Vietnam on Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos are recognised around the world. It is obvious from the history and legal viewpoints," he said.

"Vietnam should bring the case to the international court of justice even though China could refuse the jurisdiction in the case," he added.

He said Vietnam should also try to create a strong group within ASEAN to settle the dispute by peaceful measures.

Mai Hong Quy, rector of the HCM City University of Law, said although the oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 was moved out of Vietnam’s waters on July 15, this action caused bad precedence in international legal relations.

The conference, with the participation of some 50 legal scholars, was a chance for Vietnam to hear from experts in international law about the possible legal solutions to settle disputes in the East Sea peacefully.

Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, said the conference was unprecedented as it was the first time such a large number of legal experts were assembled to speak about the East Sea issue.

She said it was important to ensure that the dispute did not escalate into a much broader military confrontation.

She said that international law provides that every country "shall have a 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone from its coastal line".

"The oil rig Haiyang Shiyou 981 was placed within the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf of Vietnam and that is the major reason why it was a violation of the international law."

"China has many excuses for what it did, but those excuses really do not support international law," she added.

Chito Sta. Romana, president of the Philippines Association for Chinese Studies, told Vietnam News on the sidelines of the conference that Vietnam should learn from the experience of the Philippines in filing a lawsuit to China over the dispute on East Sea.

The event, which was organised by HCM City Law University and Vietnam Bar Association, included three sessions on major topics, including international law and China's oil rig placement in the East Sea, settlement of disputes by political and diplomatic measures under international law, and settlement of disputes by legal measures in accordance with international law.

It was attended by international law experts from research centres, institutes and universities from the US, Russia, Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Singapore.

The East Sea is the world's second busiest sea lane through which more than half of the world's supertankers and 5.3 trillion USD worth of annual trade passes.

There are ongoing sovereignty disputes in the sea between China and several of its neighbouring nations, including Vietnam and the Philippines.-VNA