Today, the United Nations (UN) Arbitral Tribunal decided the territorial dispute over the South China Sea/West Philippine Sea between the Republic of the Philippines and the Peoples Republic of China. The Tribunal dismissed China’s claim of historic rights over resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ and declared that certain areas are within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines, using the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as basis.
It can be recalled that the dispute dragged on for more than twenty years. There were attempts to resolve it inbilateral, regional, and multilateral talks, until it was submitted to the UN for arbitration in 2013.
The Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) entreats the parties to the dispute to respect the decision of the Tribunal for the sake of the preservation of regional peace, stability, and security. We also note that both countries have a history of strong diplomatic relations with each other for over four decades and sincerely hope that such ties will even become stronger despite the Tribunal’s decision.
COLAP reiterates its previous call on all States to have a recourse in good faith to mechanisms of the United Nations and/or talks among concerned parties in resolving territorial disputes. It also reiterates its admonition for States locked in such disputes to respect and deal with one another as sovereign equals and give due regard to the right of self-determination of the opposing party. COLAP once more seizes this opportunity to recall that the Charter of the United Nations provides that “(a)ll Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered” and that “ parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.”
As a final note, COLAP recognizes that all peoples of the world are interdependent and interwoven, and that a harm committed against one is a harm committed against everyone. Any unrest in any part of the world is an unrest everywhere. States must therefore resolve disputes through peaceful means elaborated in international norms for the sake of harmonious co-existence of all peoples.
Mr. Jitendra Sharma (India), President, firstname.lastname@example.org
Neri Colmenares ( Philippines), Vice President, +63 917 835 0459, email@example.com
Mr. Jun Sasamoto (Japan), Secretary General, firstname.lastname@example.org
Edre U .Olalia ( Philippines), Secretary, +63 917 511 3373, email@example.com