The looming ruling of the International Tribunal in The Hague on the complaint filed by the Philippines against China concerning islands in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) will bring peace between countries, incoming Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said.
Roque made the prediction in his speech at the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL) Regional Conference in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The Philippines questioned China’s ambiguous claim on almost the entire West Philippine Sea.
“While China has repeatedly said that it will ignore the decision of this tribunal, I am confident that to scholars of international law, the decision of a competent body under the UNCLOS with jurisdiction over issues of interpretation and application of the UNCLOS cannot simply be ignored, particularly by a country that wants to be recognized as a responsible world power,” Roque said, referring to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, on which the Philippine case is anchored.
“While this arbitration will not resolve the conflicting claims to both land and maritime territories in the disputed South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), international law—through the ad hoc UNCLOS Tribunal’s decision—will still contribute to a peaceful resolution to Asia’s most problematic dispute in recent years,” Roque added.
Beijing has repeatedly said that it will not honor the tribunal’s ruling but Roque believes that in the end, China will have no choice but to bow to the international tribunal.
“China will honor the decision of the arbitral body if not in words, then in its deeds—if only because no law-abiding state has thus far admitted to its breach of international law,” he said.
“International law remains the most potent system to maintain peace and prosperity in the Asian continent. It is a normative system that enables us to harness and promote values that serve our commons interests,” Roque said.