Philippine envoy calls on UN to support rule of law in arbitration
( - July 8, 2016 - 6:35pm

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines's permanent representative to the United Nations called on the union's member countries to support the rule of law in the upcoming decision of its arbitral tribunal in connection with the South China Sea dispute.

Ambassador Lourdes Yparraguirre informed the Department of Foreign Affairs that state parties to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) have been updated of the developments in the arbitration proceedings since their last meeting in June 2015.

"We believe in the fairness and thoroughness of the arbitral proceedings, the binding character of the outcome, and the need for all States Parties to the Convention and all members of the international community to respect this outcome," Yparraguirre said.

Yparraguirre stressed that the upcoming award of the international tribunal would be the rule of law on the dispute.

The UN tribunal is set to issue its ruling on the Philippines's case against China's nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea on July 12.

"The rule of law is a just and peaceful means of resolving disputes. The Philippines will fully respect the tribunal’s award as an affirmation of the Convention," the Philippine envoy said.

During the annual meeting of UNCLOS state parties, Yparraguirre pointed out that China dredged out and pulverized entire systems of coral reefs in the disputed waters.

"[A]nd thus devastated the already fragile marine ecosystem and biodiversity of the region by irreparably destroying the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life," Yparraguirre said.

The Philippine envoy called on the international community to strengthen UNCLOS by supporting the upcoming ruling of its Permanent Court of Arbitration.

Meanwhile, China's Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Wu Haitao, said the Philippines and Vietnam, another claimant state, should not raise its concerns before the UNCLOS as it is not the proper forum.

Beijing earlier accused Manila of deception by engaging in publicity stunts to gain international sympathy and illegally occupying some features of China's Nansha Islands or Spratly Group of Islands.

On Oct. 29, 2015, the arbitral tribunal ruled it has jurisdiction to rule on the Philippines's complaint against China.

China, however, insisted it would not participate in the proceedings and would not recognize nor implement the international tribunal's ruling. — Patricia Lourdes Viray

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