Monday, December 2, 2013

International law is the best recourse in South China Sea territorial spat, says expert

MANILA-Stanford University senior fellow Donald Emerson says clarifying the notoriously ambiguous “U-shaped line” by the Court of Arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is a good first step in order for all claimants in the South China Sea territorial dispute to frame their positions attuned to international law.

He added that while a comprehensive solution is presently beyond reach, the priority need is for mutual accommodations that are modest enough to be achievable, but significant enough to be worth the effort to pursue.

“Tensions urgently need to be addressed on multiple fronts in alternative ways.  Recourse to international law is a prime option. Other channels include bilateral and multiple negotiations—bilateral, minilateral, and multilateral—designed to induce, end, and/or alter specific actions by the parties concerned,” he said.

Emmerson’s policy concerns run from specific issues such as sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea to broad questions involving China-Southeast Asia relations, the American “rebalance” toward Asia, and the future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Emmerson will speak at a roundtable discussion organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics titled "What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia" on December 5 at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.

The event will be keynoted by former Senator Edgardo J. Angara, who recently concluded over two decades of distinguished service as a Philippine legislator. Among his landmark reforms include laws on arts and culture, agriculture, education, good governance, health and social welfare. He also served as chairman of the Congressional Commission on Education (CHED), Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Chairman of the Philippine National Bank, and Executive Secretary.

A former UP President, Angara also led the creation of the UP Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea (UP-IMLOS), a highly specialized academic research institution based in the UP Law Center devoted to maritime affairs.

Other featured speakers include Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, and Professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre.

The event is sponsored by Asia United Bank. 

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