global support for resolution of Maritime disputes
MANILA, Oct. 23 -- Following Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert
F. del Rosario’s recent call for the United Nations (UN) to affirm
international law as the great equalizer among States, however powerful or
weak, the Philippine Mission to the world body welcomed the international
community’s growing recognition that developments in the South China
Sea/West Philippine Sea maritime disputes concern the international
community as a whole.
Addressing the Legal Committee of the UN General Assembly at debate on the
rule of law last October 16, Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre, Philippine
Permanent Representative to the UN, recalled that the root cause of the
disputes is China’s claim of “indisputable sovereignty” over almost 90
percent of the South China Sea, as enclosed by its so-called Nine-Dash Line.
“The so-called Nine-Dash Line is an excessive and expansive claim, and does
not have legitimacy under international law, including the UN Convention on
the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Ambassador Yparraguirre remarked.
She highlighted UNCLOS as a distinct achievement of the UN’s multilateral
treaty process, and reiterated the Philippines’ total commitment to its
peaceful and rules-based approach to the resolution of maritime disputes.
“Territorial or maritime claims should never be asserted through
intimidation, coercion or force, including through massive, large scale
ocean filling or reclamation or illegally creating artificial islands in the
high seas and in the exclusive economic zone of another coastal State,”
Ambassador Yparraguirre emphasized.
China has undertaken accelerated ocean-filling or reclamation in the last
two years after the Philippines initiated UNCLOS arbitration proceedings
against it, preventing the Philippines from accessing its traditional
fishing grounds and from enforcing its relevant laws within the West
Ambassador Yparraguirre added that, “These illegal actions have destroyed
corals reefs and their priceless marine ecosystem which took millions of
years to form, and violate our mandate to protect the marine environment
under Articles 192 and 194 of UNCLOS.”
In addressing the arbitration tribunal process, the Ambassador stressed that
over two decades of bilateral consultations and negotiations between the
Philippines and China have proven futile and one-sided. This has made
arbitration, a third-party dispute settlement process, necessary. The
arbitration panel is composed of outstanding experts on UNCLOS who can
successfully guide all parties to the correct interpretation of the
principles of international law including UNCLOS in order to resolve the
“The rule of law … anchors relations between and among States on the basis
of respect and sovereign equality, and allows for an environment of genuine
peace and security to flourish,” Ambassador Yparraguirre concluded.
The video recording of the Philippines’ full statement, together with the
exchange between the Philippines and China in the exercise of their rights
to reply, may be accessed via the UN’s webcast at www.un.org., under the
deliberations of the Sixth Committee’s 8th meeting dated October 16. (DFA)