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Official calls for East Sea ‘Code of Conduct'

Update: July, 02/2012 - 10:05
HA NOI — Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said a Code of Conduct would be a more effective tool to ensure peace, security and stability in the East Sea.

Vinh said this in an interview after a meeting of senior officials from ASEAN in Ha Noi.

The Deputy FM said that the East Sea was important in terms of geo-strategy, security and economics, adding that it provided strategic maritime routes for the region and the world.

At the same time, there existed complicated disputes on territorial sovereignty. Therefore, the common goal was to prevent the disputes from escalating and to ensure peace, stability, security, maritime safety and freedom in the East Sea.

To achieve this goal, Vinh said ASEAN and China had signed a very important document in 2002 - the Declaration on Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.

During the past 10 years, the declaration not only reflected joint commitments to peace, maritime security and safety, and trust building in the East Sea,but actually created a framework regulating conduct by all parties.

Vinh said the most important thing in the declaration was that the parties must respect international laws, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

However, in the same period, the East Sea had witnessed many complicated developments threatening regional peace, security and stability.

"It requires the region to build a tool (Code of Conduct) that can ensure the stated objective more effectively," he said.

"ASEAN leaders have been holding internal consultations on establishing the code since November 2011. These will serve as a foundation for discussions between ASEAN and China."

Vinh said subsequently, the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting (SOM ASEAN) had instructed its working group to build a document on ASEANs viewpoints on the main components of the code of conduct.

The working group had held seven rounds of consultations before the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting in Ha Noi on June 24-25 reached consensus and completed the document. It will be submitted to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers to decide before starting ASEAN-China negotiations.

Regarding ASEANs viewpoint on the basic components of the code, Vinh said the general approach was that it would not only inherit the positive points from the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, but also be upgraded to a higher level on the basis of summarising the 10-year implementation of the declaration to meet the needs of the new situation.

In short, the future code of conduct needs to include the principle of respecting international laws, the UN Charter, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in Southeast Asia and the declaration on the conduct of parties.

The goal of the Code of Conduct should be creating a law-based framework regulating the conducts of the parties in the East Sea in accordance with the stated principles.

The code must stipulate the obligations and conducts of the parties in the East Sea, which first of all is to work for peace, stability, security, maritime safety and freedom while boosting co-operation in building confidence, preventing disputes from escalating and solving disputes peacefully on the basis of international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

At the same time, it should lay stress on the respect for the exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of coastal states under the 1982 convention.

Furthermore, Vinh said the Code of Conduct should include mechanisms to ensure its implementation, including those to supervise implementation, deal with violations and ensure the peaceful settlement of disputes on the basis of international laws, UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation in South-East Asia - and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea.

Deputy Minister Vinh noted that the ASEAN document on the Code of Conducts main components was its own viewpoint. The bloc would have to negotiate with the Chinese side on specific issues, he said, adding that this process would not be easy due to differences between the two sides.

"We think that if all parties share the aspiration for peace, security, stability and co-operation, they should support ASEANs viewpoint of building the code into a tool that effectively contributes to common objectives," said Vinh. — VNS


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