Santiago to PH gov’t: take caution in recognizing Crimea
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned the Philippines on Friday from taking a position whether or not to recognize Crimea but said the country may have a “working relationship” with the newly independent state.
With the absence of “customary” international law that should govern secession, Santiago said it would be prudent for the country not extend official recognition to Crimea.
“What is international law on secession? There is no answer to that question because at this point, there is no customary international law that governs secession so international law is neutral…” she told reporters after speaking before the International Youth Leadership Conference in Taguig City.
“In the case of the Philippines, the better part of prudence dictates that we must leave for the moment the question of whether we shall recognize Crimea,” she said.
“If it’s necessary, we can have a working relationship with Crimea if this becomes absolutely necessary. But we don’t have to extend official recognition to it because even now the Philippines does not extend official recognition to Kosovo…” the senator pointed out
Santiago, chairman of the Senate committee on foreign relations, said international law “neither prohibits nor promotes secession.”
“The major consideration is mainly political, and this decides the issue whether a state will recognize the new independent state,” she said in her speech.
Crimea recently held a referendum where 97% of the locals voted to leave Ukraine and to join Russia.
But the Ukraine government, with the support of the United States and the European Union, protested the referendum as a violation of international law.
Santiago noted, however that at present, there is no principle of customary international law which allows a right to secede from a state.
“Crimea bases its claim on the right to internal self-determination. This is because the Crimea event does not yet constitute customary international law. We have to wait for international practice to develop in the future,” she said.
She said the three main characteristics of customary international law are repetition, practice, and the Latin principle of opinio juris or opinion of law.
“If the Philippines extends recognition to Crimea, in effect the Philippines is saying that Crimea is entitled to a principle of customary international law, most importantly the principle of opinio juris. This is the principle that for a practice to become a rule of customary international law, it must be shown that nations believe that international law mandates the practice. Opinio juris is not based on moral obligation,” the senator explained.
But Santiago said: “I do not think that we have complied with the requirement of opinio juris. Some states will simply recognize Crimea as a state within the orbit of Russia, but recognition by other states will not amount to recognition of a general right to independence by Crimea.”
Reacting to comments that the Crimea crisis should follow the Kosovo case, where many states extended recognition to Kosovo when it seceded from Serbia, Santiago said that “when Kosovo invoked the right to secession, the world had already witnessed serious human rights violations in that area.”
Santiago said the Philippines without necessarily granting recognition to Crimea, may imply proceed to conduct everyday working relations with Crimea.
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