Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario called on member states of the United Nations (UN) to support peaceful resolutions of maritime disputes in the Asian region, saying that the rule of law should regulate disputes among nations.
In his speech at the general debate of the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on October 1 at the UN headquarters in New York, Del Rosario noted that maritime disputes have intensified in the Asian region, and that these called for a better application of the rules-based approach under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
"Today, my country faces its most serious challenge to the security of its maritime domain and integrity of its national territory, as well as its effective protection of its marine environment," Del Rosario said.
"To address this challenge and to arrive at a durable resolution, we must rely on the rule of law and not the force of arms. We must rely on the body of rules that state that disputes must be resolved peacefully. We must rely on the norms and rules enshrined in the Unclos," he added.
Tensions over countries' competing claims in the West Philippine Sea have been the cause of concern that these could result into a potential armed conflict.
China claims sovereignty over nearly all of the sea, which is believed to hold vast amounts of oil and gas,
The Philippines and fellow Asean members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, as well as Taiwan, claim parts of the sea.
Del Rosario, in his remarks, underscored the role of the UN as "the one great institution we have charged with promoting peace and prosperity in our world".
"We therefore rely on our friends and allies and all those who believe in the peaceful and fair management of the seas and oceans to uphold the rule of law and Unclos. We will endeavour to elicit a more proactive action from the General Assembly," he said.
Del Rosario also reiterated that the Philippines remained steadfast in its support for the UN position of promoting the rule of law and mediation.
Right is might
"Mr. President, we often hear the quote that 'we are a country of laws and not of men.' I shall modify it to say that 'we are a community of nations and not of hegemons," Del Rosario said.
Del Rosario, in his speech, argued that if the law of rule prevailed in the relations among nations, "we will demonstrate that right is might".
"If we achieve this, rather than being forced to accept that might is right, we will instead demonstrate that right is might," he said.
"Let us make this a reality. Let us all, without exception, respect the international legal framework to utilise institutions and adhere to commitments in treaties and conventions. For in so doing, we create global norms that will serve our nations in good stead today and in the future," he added.
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