EU backs PH move to bring sea dispute to UNBy Tarra Quismundo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The European Parliament has expressed support for the Philippine decision to take China before the United Nations’ (UN) arbitral tribunal to settle disputes in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.
In a statement sent late Tuesday afternoon, the DFA said the European body adopted a resolution on March 14 “approving a report which included its support for the Philippines’ arbitration initiative.”
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario welcomed Europe’s support, calling it a “milestone” in the Philippines’ international campaign for support for the arbitration initiative.
The report by the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs on European Union-China relations also called on China “to commit itself to observing the UN Charter and international law in pursuit of its goals abroad,” the DFA said.
In its report, the European Parliament called for calm among nations entangled in the dispute over the West Philippine Sea and urged them to use the mechanism of international arbitration, as provided under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos), to settle conflicting claims.
Citing the sea’s importance as an international trade route, the European Parliament said it “is alarmed at the escalating tension and therefore urgently appeals to all parties involved to refrain from unilateral political and military actions.”
The report further asked parties involved “to tone down statements and to settle their conflicting territorial claims in the South China Seas by means of international arbitration in accordance with international law, in particular the Unclos, in order to ensure regional stability.”
The Philippines initiated the arbitration move against China on Jan. 22, asking the UN to halt Chinese incursions into established Philippine maritime boundaries in the West Philippine Sea.
The legal action also sought to invalidate the Chinese nine-dash-line claim over the waters, which encroaches into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.