Philippine envoy to UN stresses ‘rule of law’ in resolving int’l disputes
MANILA, Philippines—Without referring to China and the Spratlys dispute in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea), the Philippines’ deputy permanent representative to the United Nations called on UN member-states to adhere to the rule of law in the resolution of international conflicts.
A copy of the speech of Ambassador Carlos Sorreta made available to the media on Tuesday and delivered during a Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, emphasized that the rule of law “has a central role in the settlement of disputes, whether in terms of method or substance.”
Sorreta also stressed that “while there is a need to continue working together to rebuild societies ravaged by conflicts, the international community also needs to continue to work as one to prevent the escalation of conflicts between states by respecting the rule of law.”
At the same time, the envoy pointed out that “time and again, conflicts – ideological, political, military and territorial – have arisen when the rule of law is weak.”
For his part, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan, Manila’s permanent representative to the UN, noted that the Philippine position “brought to the fore another aspect of the rule of law which should rightly be given equal emphasis.”
“The rule of law has largely been seen in the context of post-conflict scenarios when all too often the tragic price in terms of the loss of human lives and in destruction has already been paid,” he said.
According to Cabactulan, “we need to broaden and enrich the debate in the UN on the rule of law to include conflict prevention and dispute resolution. We must not tire in the efforts to prevent international conflicts.”
He also reminded the international community about its obligation to “comply with the UN charter, particularly on the peaceful settlement of disputes, as well as UN General Assembly resolutions, including Resolution 37/10, which adopted the 1982 Manila Declaration on the Peaceful Settlement of International Disputes.”
“These obligations and commitments are spelled out clearly and reiterated throughout international instruments and General Assembly resolutions. We need to abide by and renew our pledge to these commitments, otherwise we go against the raison d’etre as members of the UN,” the diplomat added.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has repeatedly asserted that a rules-based approach would provide the key to securing the country’s claims to the Spratlys and advancing the peaceful settlement of disputes in the West Philippine Sea.
Del Rosario said the country’s policy in the disputed waters has been “grounded on an unwavering adherence to international law,” particularly the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“For the Philippines, certainly the primacy of international law is the cornerstone on which we define and protect our territory and maritime entitlements in the West Philippine Sea,” he also said.
He added, “It behooves the Philippines to embrace this imperative to the fullest, and we expect nothing less from our international partners,” referring to the other Spratlys claimants – China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam.
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