MANILA — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China have moved forward towards the implementation of the 2002 Declaration of Conduct after it adopted on November 13 a document declaring 2017-2027 as a decade for the protection of coastal and marine environment in the South China Sea.
In the chairman’s statement of the 20th ASEAN-China summit, the Leaders’ Declaration on a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea was described “reflective” of ASEAN member states and China’s “shared commitment” to implement the DOC.
The leaders explained that its approval signifies parties’ desire to transform the South China Sea into a “sea of peace, stability, and prosperity.”
At the 16th ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC) council meeting on November 12, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano himself said the document’s signing is something to look forward to.
“(It) would further boost maritime cooperation in marine environmental protection component of the full and effective implementation of the DOC,” he said.
In the document, leaders recalled on the obligations of governments under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and relevant international instruments, UN resolutions and other efforts to preserve and protect the coastal and marine environment and resources.
The leaders committed to promoting responsible fishing practices, environmentally friendly fishing methods, and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to ensure sustainable fishery resources and achieve food security.
Pending a comprehensive settlement on the territorial and jurisdictional disputes in the strategic waters, the parties concerned noted that relevant cooperative activities, in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS 1982, will be allowed without prejudice to the positions of the parties concerned.