Vietnamese expert backs inclusion of arbitral ruling in code of conduct 

A Vietnamese maritime expert strongly supports a proposal to include the landmark arbitration ruling that invalidated China’s sweeping claims over the South China Sea in the code of conduct  being hammered out by Southeast Asian nations and Beijing.

Dr. Tran Cong Truc, former chief of the Vietnamese Government Border Committee, said the international arbitral decision, which ruled heavily in favor of the Philippines, is “something that can not be ignored” in the drafting of a code of conduct in the disputed sea.

Tran said the contents of the ruling could be used to determine the scope of sea and continental shelf of coastal states.

“The universality of international law has been recognized,” Tran told GMA News Online, adding the ruling will help identify the disputed from the non-disputed areas.

Making this a part of document, he said, would eventually help demilitarize the South China Sea and convert it into areas of cooperation.

“The code has to determine which activities are allowed and not allowed in disputed areas,” Tran said.

“In particular, all parties have to respect the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of other coastal states as well as the freedom and security of navigation and security in the South China Sea, in accordance with 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he added.

Former Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, who initiated the arbitration proceedings against China, had said that the arbitral ruling should be an integral part of the code of conduct.

“We cannot promote the rule of law while ignoring the law as it stands,” Del Rosario said.

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China are aspiring to complete a framework for a code of conduct within the year.

Four of ASEAN members –Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei – are locked up  in long-running disputes with China in the South China Sea.

A regional code of conduct aims to prevent conflicting territorial claims in the vast potentially-oil rich region from erupting into violent confrontations or worse, an economically-devastating major conflict. Read more…

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