Please bring sea victory to UN General Assembly


More and more coastal states are using the 2016 international court verdict to promote their maritime interest. Manila won arbitration against Beijing sea aggression. But The Hague jurisprudence benefits every littoral country.

The tribunal outlawed China’s baseless “nine-dash line” sea boundary. Clarified was that China-held isles in the Spratlys do not generate a 200-mile exclusive economic zone. In fact those isles are reefs that China grabbed in Philippine EEZ and concreted into fortresses. That violated Philippine sovereign rights and escalated tensions while arbitration was ongoing. China further trampled on Filipino rights by occupying their traditional fishing ground Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal. China reef reclamations irreparably damaged the marine environment.

During the arbitration Vietnam wrote the court that China’s nine-dash line has no factual basis in international law, yet encroaches on its jurisdiction. Thereafter Vietnam filed with the UN its extended continental shelf.
Before the ruling came out the European Union and G7 stated that Manila and Beijing must abide by whatever it would be. Invoking the invalidation of the “nine-dash” claim, Indonesia renamed its EEZ, where China poaches, as the North Natuna Sea. During and after the award, Malaysia filed two extended continental shelf declarations rejecting China’s invented historical claim. India called for dispute settlement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. On the fourth anniversary of the award last July 12, the U.S. declared support for the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and Indonesia, and warned against any more Chinese bullying. Australia wrote the UN General Assembly that no country should be bound by the “nine-dash” concoction despite China’s militarization and propaganda.

Only the Philippines has not used its arbitral victory. Thus, this appeal to President Duterte to “Please bring the Arbitral Ruling to the UN General Assembly”. Full text of the joint statement of former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario, retired Supreme Court justice Antonio Carpio, and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, dated 28 August 2020:

“On September 15, 2020, the 75th regular session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will convene at the UN Headquarters in New York. This is when the leaders of 193 countries troop to the UN to promote their respective positions before the global community of nations. This is when States, big and small, will have a full window to be heard.

“We, Filipinos, must not waste this chance to be heard. Having lost so many opportunities by the shelving of the Arbitral Ruling since 2016, it is now in our highest national interest to bring this Ruling on the South China Sea to the UNGA.

“With due respect, we do not fully agree with the opinion of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that ‘We won it already. Why would you want to re-litigate something that you won?’

“Bringing the Arbitral Ruling to the UNGA is not re-litigating the case. It is enforcing what we already won. As international law does not have a world policeman, it is up to us to enforce the Arbitral Ruling by rallying other countries to our lawful position. If we do not help ourselves, how can we expect other countries to help us?
“Our Constitution has clearly tasked our President and military to secure our sovereignty and protect our lands and seas. This important mandate should prompt the Government to bring the Arbitral Ruling to the UNGA.
“When President Duterte decided to shelve the Arbitral Ruling, he also promised the Filipino people to raise the Ruling at a ‘proper time.’ This coming September is his penultimate chance to fulfill his promise to the Filipino people.