On Foreign Policy-A A +A
My Palm Notes
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
THIS is how it should be done, not through the backdoor.
Insofar as resolving the maritime dispute with China, the Department of Foreign Affairs is taking the right path to address this huge headache for the country.
And I think DFA Sec. Albert Del Rosario should be given a pat on the back for it. Going through backdoor, secret meetings, clandestine talks or whatever you call – with the Trillanes-Enrile brouhaha – does not help at all. It does not only imperil current diplomatic measures but has also put at grave risk the state of our foreign policy insofar as the maritime dispute is concerned.
A dispatch from our good friend Robert Borje, Second Secretary and Press Officer at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, shows how the Philippines should handle conflicts like the maritime issue with China.
While I missed this year’s UN General Assembly in New York (which I have covered from 2005 to 2009), I feel like I should still have this item see print. It’s part of my personal advocacy in espousing calls for us to live in dignity, free from hunger and fear.
Prior to his appearance at the UNGA last week, Sec. Del Rosario also spoke in high level talks at the UN in May this year where he underscored the importance of mediation for peaceful settlement of disputes. Between then and his UNGA speech, some backdoor channeling were made, to our people’s surprise and to the utter disappointments of men and women in Philippine diplomacy especially Sec. Del Rosario.
You see, adhering and following UN-sanctioned mechanisms like mediation, arbitration and negotiation gives a country like the Philippines leverage and it levels the playing field. It serves as equalizer for us, a third-world country that does not have even a bit of military might compared to our neighbor states like China.
Chapter VI of the UN Charter which deals with peaceful settlement of disputes requires States with disputes to seek solutions through peaceful methods such as mediation. Other mechanisms include negotiation, enquiry, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, among others.
With mediation and other diplomatic mechanisms, therefore, we will be able to tell the world and convince it of our position and claims like the Spratleys and Panatag Shoal. Mediation is a tool against bullying and we should push for it.
The Philippines made its strongest principled case yet for the peaceful settlement of disputes, rallying the international community’s support to uphold dispute settlement principles and mechanisms as enshrined and identified in international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other relevant instruments such as the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.
In his address at the general debate of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert del Rosario called on all Members States to “without exception, respect the international legal framework to utilize institutions and adhere to commitments in treaties and conventions.”
Secretary del Rosario put forward the principled position that, in doing so, the international community would “create global norms that will serve our nations in good stead today and in the future” and that this will preserve “Our United Nations” which he described as “the one great institution we have charged with promoting peace and prosperity in our world.”
In his statement, Secretary del Rosario underlined that the United Nations 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.”
Underscoring that the world is “a community of nations and not of hegemons,” Secretary del Rosario called for the rule of law to prevail in the relations among nations, arguing emphatically that if this were achieved, “rather than being forced to accept that might is right, we will instead demonstrate that right is might.”
Expressing the country’s commitment as a responsible member of the international community, Secretary del Rosario said that “the Philippines is steadfast in promoting the peaceful settlement of disputes using a rules-based approach” and stands “firmly behind efforts in the United Nations to promote the rule of law and mediation.”
Secretary del Rosario pointed out 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 has never been more relevant than it is today.”
“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,” Secretary del Rosario emphasized.
During his address at the UN General Assembly, Secretary del Rosario likewise underscored the importance of other relevant international instruments on the peaceful settlement of disputes, particularly the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes. The Manila Declaration’s 30th anniversary will be commemorated this year at the United Nations, along with the 30th anniversary of the UNCLOS.
“The principles and processes enunciated in the Manila Declaration remain applicable to this day and is a stark reminder that we have yet to overcome the barriers that divide countries and peoples all over the planet,” stressed Secretary del Rosario.
In a statement following his address, Secretary del Rosario said that “The Philippines will never tire of this advocacy.”
“Our advocacy on the Rule of Law and the peaceful settlement of disputes is borne not only out of our experience and insights as a founding member of the United Nations and as a responsible member of the international community. It is deeply rooted in our experience as a nation. We fought hard for our freedom. President Benigno S. Aquino III has secured those freedoms firmly by placing the rule of law at the center of his governance and in our relations with the larger international community,” Secretary del Rosario explained.
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on October 03, 2012.