Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the Award rendered in the Arbitration between the Republic of the Philippines and the People's Republic of China
Lead EEAS spokesperson
The European Union and its Member States, as contracting parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), acknowledge the Award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal, being committed to maintaining a legal order of the seas and oceans based upon the principles of international law, UNCLOS, and to the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The EU does not take a position on sovereignty aspects relating to claims. It expresses the need for the parties to the dispute to resolve it through peaceful means, to clarify their claims and pursue them in respect and in accordance with international law, including the work in the framework of UNCLOS.
The EU recalls that the dispute settlement mechanisms as provided under UNCLOS contribute to the maintenance and furthering of the international order based upon the Rule of Law and are essential to settle disputes.
The EU also underlines the fundamental importance of upholding the freedoms, rights and duties established in UNCLOS, in particular the freedoms of navigation and overflight.
The EU supports the swift conclusion of talks aiming at an effective Code of Conduct between ASEAN and China implementing the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
Recalling its Statement of 11 March 2016, the EU calls upon the parties concerned to address remaining and further related issues through negotiations and other peaceful means and refrain from activities likely to raise tensions. As a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and as a High Contracting Party to the 1976 Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South East Asia, the EU also wishes to "foster cooperation in the furtherance of the cause of peace, harmony, and stability in the region". The EU therefore stands ready to facilitate activities which help to build confidence between the parties concerned.
While underlining the importance of all States working together to protect the marine ecosystem already endangered by the intensification of maritime traffic and dredging, the EU and its Member States will continue to organise High Level Dialogues on Maritime Security Cooperation and the exchange of best practices on joint management and development of shared resources, such as fisheries, as well as on capacity-building measures.
The Candidate Countries Montenegro* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this Declaration.
* Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.