Philippine envoy urges UN to meddle in sea row-A A +A
Tuesday, October 2, 2012
THE Philippines' top diplomat challenged Tuesday the United Nations (UN) to help peacefully resolve territorial disputes on the South China Sea, which is now locally being referred as the West Philippine Sea, through rules-based approach.
Speaking before delegates of the UN General Assembly's 67th Session at the UN headquarters in New York, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario called Tuesday on member-states to stand against adversity, pointing out that the UN was created to "protect the weak from the strong, to provide for the equality of all sovereign states, and to enshrine the rule of law as the governing principle in regulating international disputes."
"As such, the Philippines is steadfast in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes using a rules-based approach. We stand firmly behind efforts in the UN to promote the rule of law and mediation," he said, addressing UN President Ban Ki-Moon.
Del Rosario said that from the perspective of the rule of law, and given the maritime disputes that have intensified in the Asian region, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) has never been more relevant than it is at present.
"All States must respect their obligations to settle their maritime disputes by peaceful means, without threats or use of force, under Unclos. A rules-based approach under Unclos can peacefully resolve these Asian maritime disputes. Today, my country faces its most serious challenge to the security of its maritime domain and integrity of its national territory, as well as its effective protection of its marine environment," he said.
The Philippines has had a two-month maritime standoff with China over the Scarborough Shoal, locally known as Panatag shoal or Bajo de Masinloc, which is located some 124 nautical miles off Masinloc town in Zambales province, and over 500-NM from the nearest standpoint in China.
Although Manila already withdrew its two vessels from the lagoon, believed to be sitting on vast oil and mineral reserves, pursuant to its agreement with China, Beijing has yet to recall close to 100 vessels stationed in the area.
Several diplomatic protests have been filed by the Philippines to China on the issue, and even threatened to bring the matter before the UN-backed International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea (Itlos), but all these were ignored by the giant nation.
To further reinforce its claim on Panatag, as well as other land masses that are also being claimed by the Philippines and other Asian countries on the WPS, China has shown its military muscle by bringing patrol boats in the area and had even established a garrison in Sansha island, part of the contested Spratlys islands (Kalayaan island groups).
China earlier insisted on its nine-dash line claim over the WPS, though it refused to acknowledge established laws on territorial delineations such as the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Del Rosario then asked member states to "without exception, respect the international legal framework to utilize institutions and adhere to commitments in treaties and conventions."
"To address this challenge and to arrive at a durable resolution, we must rely on the rule of law and not the force of arms. We must rely on the body of rules that state that disputes must be resolved peacefully. We must rely on the norms and rules enshrined in the Unclos. We therefore rely on our friends and allies and all those who believe in the peaceful and fair management of the seas and oceans to uphold the rule of law and Unclos," he said.
"We will endeavor to elicit a more proactive action from the General Assembly," he added. (JCV/Sunnex)