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ENGLISH SCS WORKSHOP

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"...It is optimistic that all parties concerned agree to use international law to resolve the disputes in the South China Sea. In the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, China and ten ASEAN members solemnly declared their commitment to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the 1982 UNCLOS, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and other universally recognized principles of international law which shall serve as the basic norms governing state-to-state relations. The parties concerned undertake to resolve their territorial and jurisdictional disputes on the basis of universally recognized principles of international law. The Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea is a document of political will, not a legally-binding code. However, it is of great importance since it represents the political aspiration and consensus among parties. It can be taken for granted that if all the parties act in the spirit of the declaration, i.e. working toward the adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea and voluntarily assume obligations to safeguard the stability and security of the sea, we can hope for genuine stability and security there."

"...The proposal outlined in this paper is modest and practical and in view of the current deadlock in the South China Sea.  Ambitious proposals that call for wide sweeping agreements on a legal or political basis cannot make any headway in this dispute while the claimants insist on their sovereign claims.  The stalemate may suit governments which are interested in demonstrating effective occupation of islands to support their legal claims, but it will not allow them to exploit energy resources without stimulating tensions and conflict.  The positive incentive of maritime energy cooperation and all its benefits is required to move beyond the stalemate. This means building on existing efforts to exploit the resources of the area which have been undertaken by claimants separately and in their own claim zones.  The extension of these efforts within a multilateral framework which could be coordinated by ASEAN is not impossible though it would demand a major change in ASEAN’s attitude towards the issue.  ASEAN’s passivity towards the range of problems and issues it now faces is a barrier to its future development and it should take the initiative over an issue of vital importance to its future.  ASEAN has the status to promote this this proposal and by doing so it would strengthen its role in the Asia Pacific region"

"...This paper explores the rules of international law, as well as relevant state practice, pertaining to maritime cooperation.  Its scope therefore includes formal and informal arrangements whereby states have decided to blur, or establish some alternative to, the usual rules pertaining to exclusive jurisdiction at sea.  This can be done for a number of purposes:  the joint exploration and exploitation of agreed areas for oil and gas activities, the cooperative development of individual oil or gas fields, joint fishing zones, or other areas within which a variety of activities by the authorities and/or nationals of the states concerned are envisaged.  There are other types of arrangement, usually informal, whereby countries have agreed, de facto, to respect historically established boundaries for certain jurisdictional purposes, without prejudice to a final formal agreement.  The emphasis in all cases is the same:  not allowing differences concerning the extent of maritime jurisdiction to get in the way of exploration, exploitation, monitoring, enforcement:  in short, the ensemble of rights and obligations that coastal states enjoy and are required to observe in the oceans.

It might be as well to say at the outset that this writer acknowledges that joint development of the petroleum resources of an area is not the same thing as the cooperative development of an individual field. But that difference is immaterial here: this paper seeks to draw legal conclusions from different manifestations of state behaviour – where two or more sovereign entities agree to cooperate..."

"...In 2009, enormous changes have been witnessed in the South China Sea (SCS). It is essential to note a few security issues as follows:

First, as the UNCLOS set the deadline for all coastal states to submit their establishments of the outer limits of the continental shelf to the Commission of the Limits on the Continental Shelf (CLCS) by May 13, 2009, Southeast Asian states adjacent to the SCS were hastened to submit their submissions in the SCS’s sea areas. Notably, on February 17th, the Filipino Congress approved the legislation on territorial waters, putting Scarborough Shoals and part of Spratlys under the Filipino jurisdiction. On May 6th, Malaysia and Vietnam made a joint submission relating to an area in the South of the SCS. On May 7th, Vietnam submitted a separate submission on its own relating to an area near the center of the SCS.

In accordance with the Article 9, Annex II of the UNCLOS: “The actions of the Commission shall not prejudice matters relating to delimitation of boundaries between states with opposite or adjacent coasts”. In accordance with Article 46 (sic) of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission: “In cases there is a dispute in the delimitation of the continental shelf between opposite or adjacent states , or in other case of unresolved land or maritime disputes, submission shall be considered in accordance with Annex I  to these rules. In accordance with para.5 of the Annex I of the Rules of Procedure “In cases where a land or maritime dispute exists, the Commission shall not examine and qualify a submission made by any of the states concerned in the dispute”; and “the submissions made before the Commission and the recommendations adopted by the Commission thereon shall not prejudice the position of states which are parties to land or maritime dispute”. From these regulations, the Commission is not in the position to settle disputes of sovereignty on the sea, and has no mandate to resolve the overlapping areas in the extended continental shelf. They are, instead, in charge of the delimitation of the extended continental shelf. Therefore, any solutions to SCS disputes would eventually depend on claimants themselves through their negotiations. Submissions of the outer limits of the continental shelf only highlight the existing disputes and increasingly broaden the dispute scope..."

"...In conclusion, after many years of managing potential conflicts in the SCS, now the spirit of cooperation has emerged in the area. There has been no eruption of conflicts or armed conflicts since 1988. In fact, the friendly relations between China and the Southeast Asian Countries have developed considerably. Yet, the prospects for conflicts in the SCS continue to exist in the future if the countries concerned do not persist in managing them carefully. Therefore, the informal efforts to manage potential conflicts in the South China Sea should continue, while the formal efforts by the countries concerned to settle bilateral issues should also be encouraged. It is expected that counties concerned should not take action that may complicate the issues."

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South China Sea Studies

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