The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the prime solution among claimants in the South China Sea territorial disputes to defuse the heated tension between Japan and China, a Stanford University senior fellow said on Monday.
Donald Emerson said that clarifying the notoriously ambiguous “U-shaped line” by the Court of Arbitration under the UNCLOS is a good first step in order for all claimants in the South China Sea territorial dispute—an area which Manila calls the West Philippine Sea—to frame their positions attuned to international law.
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.
Emerson’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).
Emerson 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.
A president of the University of the Philippines, 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.