DFA: South China Sea Code of Conduct ‘very far’ from conclusion

DFA: South China Sea Code of Conduct âvery farâ from conclusion
This handout photo taken on April 27, 2021 and received from the Philippine Coastguard on May 5, 2021 shows Philippine coastguard personnel aboard their ship BRP Cabra monitoring Chinese vessels anchored at Sabina Shoal, a South China Sea outcrop claimed by Manila located about 135 kilometres (73 nautical miles) west of the Philippine island of Palawan.
Handout / Philippine Coastguard / AFP

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs maintains that member states of the Associaton of Southeast Asian Nations and China are “still very far from concluding” the South China Sea Code of Conduct.

The document has to undergo its second reading although there is no deadline for that yet..

“We have finalized the preambular part of this document but I’d like to inform you that there is an unwritten agreement among ASEAN member states and China that nothing is finalized until everything is finalized,” Noel Novicio, deputy assistant secretary and executive director of the DFA’s Office of ASEAN Affairs, said in a press briefing on Wednesday.

He said some of the ASEAN member states prefer to have face to face negotiations to discuss the document, adding that he is confident that talks will resume “next year.” Leaders have apparently “committed” to expedite the conclusion of the COC, as long as it is based on international law. 

However, he noted that 11 member states are advocating for the conclusion of the document.  

The Philippines hosted the 10th Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum and the 12th ASEAN Maritime Forum, which Novicio said are also part of the country’s commemoration of the UNCLOS. 

“Among topics discussed and being discussed right now, were our stocktaking of maritime-related activities in ASEAN, review of the implementation of UNCLOS in its 40th anniversary, exchange of views on regional maritime developments, information exchange mechanisms and combating IUUF or illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the region,” he said. 

Scholars and representatives from ASEAN member states and eight dialogue partners are at the fora. Novicio said South China Sea issues were also discussed.



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