The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) expressed its concerns about the recent developments in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) that can heighten tensions in the disputed region.
In a statement coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace and stability, maritime security and freedom of navigation and overflight in the West Philippine Sea.
“They [Asean] called on all parties concerned to resolve their disputes by peaceful means in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [Unclos] and urged continued self-restraint in the conduct of activities,” the statement said.
Asean groups together the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Brunei Darussalam.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario attended the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bagan, Myanmar.
Asean also urged all parties to adhere to the principles of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to undertake the full and effective implementation of the DOC “in order to build an environment of mutual trust and confidence.”
They also emphasized the need to expeditiously work towards the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).
Furthermore, the 10-member bloc engaged all claimant-parties—China, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam—to follow the Six-Point Principles agreed upon by the bloc.
The six principles are: (1) the full implementation of the DOC; (2) the guidelines for the implementation of the DOC; (3) the early conclusion of a COC; (4) the full respect of the universally recognized principles of international law, including the Unclos; (5) the continued exercise of self-restraint and non-use of force by all parties; and (6) the peaceful resolution of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including Unclos.
Union Minister for Foreign Affairs, U Wunna Maung Lwin, as Chair of Asean for 2014, presided over the Asean Foreign Ministers’ Retreat on January 17 in Bagan, Myanmar.
The retreat is the first in the series of Asean Foreign Ministers’ meetings under Myanmar’s Asean Chairmanship in 2014 under the theme “Moving forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community.”
During the retreat, the foreign ministers discussed the priorities of Asean for 2014.
The issues include the bloc’s efforts to speed up community building and Asean integration and to move forward to the realization of the master plan for Asean community.
The Asean ministers also discussed to develop Asean Vision for Post 2015 Asean Community as guided by Asean Leaders’ Statement at the 23rd Summit and explored ways to strengthen the bloc’s external relations.
On the regional and international issues, the foreign ministers stressed the importance of upholding Asean’s centrality in the evolving regional architecture in addressing the issues of common interest of Asean.
The ministers also discussed ways “to further contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and beyond.” BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON