WPS claimants can learn from Arctic dispute

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FINDING a solution to territorial disputes in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) has remained elusive and despite the available judicial solution there has been no breakthrough achieved on the issue. An international expert expressed belief there may be lessons to be learned from another dispute case on the other side of the planet.

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Ian Storey, senior fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore cited the case of the Artic Ocean where five countries currently have coast in the Artic and each is limited to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles adjacent to their coasts.

The five countries—the Russian Federation, the United States (via Alaska), Canada, Norway and Denmark (via Greenland)—have maritime boundary disputes but unlike in the WPS, the claimants have realized that delimiting those boundaries is necessary before hydrocarbons can be commercially developed.

Under international law, no country currently owns the North Pole and the surrounding Arctic Ocean.

Storey said the five claimant states have agreed to solve their disputes through the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

He added that the Arctic states are also pursuing outcome focused discussions and agreements to improve functional cooperation, including among their armed forces.

This will be one of the topics that will be discussed during the roundtable discussion organized by the Angara Centre for Law and Economics titled “What Is to Be Done? Resolving Maritime Disputes in Southeast Asia” on December 5 at the Marriott Hotel, Resorts World Manila.

Storey will be one of the speakers in the discussion, which will be keynoted by former Sen. Edgardo Angara, who has been active on the international relations front, having been responsible for successfully rekindling the Philippines’s relations with Spain through the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Act.

Other featured speakers in the roundtable include Donald Emmerson of Stanford University, Shen Dingli of Fudan University in China, Yoichiro Sato of the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, and Prof. Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines.

The forum and roundtable discussions will be moderated by Prof. John Nye of George Mason University, Executive Director of the Angara Centre.

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