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7/13/2015 7:46:58 AM

Statement of Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands
Mr. President, distinguished Members of the Tribunal, it is a great honor to respectfully appear before you on behalf of my country, the Republic of the Philippines. It is indeed a special privilege to do so in a case that has such importance to all Filipinos and -- if I may add -- to the rule of law in international relations.
Mr. President, the Philippines has long placed its faith in the rules and institutions that the international community has created to regulate relations among States. We are proud to have been a founding member of the United Nations, and an active participant in that indispensable institution.
Its organs, coupled with the power of international law, serve as the great equalizer among States, allowing countries, such as my own, to stand on an equal footing with wealthier, more powerful States.
Nowhere is this more true, Mr. President, than with respect to the progressive development of the law of the sea, which culminated in the adoption of the Law of the Sea Convention in 1982. That instrument, which has rightly been called a 'Constitution for the Oceans,' counts among its most important achievements the establishment of clear rules regarding the peaceful use of the seas, freedom of navigation, protection of the maritime environment and, perhaps most importantly, clearly defined limits on the maritime areas in which States are entitled to exercise sovereign rights and jurisdiction.
These are all matters of central significance to the Philippines. Indeed, given our lengthy coastline, our status as an archipelagic state, and our seafaring tradition, the rules codified in the law of the sea have always had particular importance for the Philippines. The Philippines is justifiably proud of the fact that it signed the Convention on the day it was opened for signature, on 10 December 1982, and was one of the first States to submit its instrument of ratification, which it did on 8 May 1984.
The Philippines has respected and implemented its rights and obligations under the Convention in good faith. This can be seen in the amendment of our national legislation to bring the Philippines’ maritime claims into compliance with the Convention, by converting our prior straight baselines into archipelagic baselines in conformity with Articles 46 and 47, and by providing that the maritime zones of the Kalayaan Island Group and Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea would be consistent with Article 121.
The Philippines took these important steps, Mr. President, because we understand, and accept, that compliance with the rules of the Convention is required of all States Parties.
I mentioned a moment ago the equalizing power of international law. Perhaps no provisions of the Convention are as vital to achieving this critical objective than Part XV. It is these dispute resolution provisions that allow the weak to challenge the powerful on an equal footing, confident in the conviction that principles trump power; that law triumphs over force; and that right prevails over might.
Mr. President, allow me to respectfully make it clear: in submitting this case, the Philippines is NOT asking the Tribunal to rule on the territorial sovereignty aspect of its disputes with China.
We are here because we wish to clarify our maritime entitlements in the South China Sea, a question over which the Tribunal has jurisdiction. This is a matter that is most important not only to the Philippines, but also to all coastal States that border the South China Sea, and even to all the States Parties to UNCLOS. It is a dispute that goes to the very heart of UNCLOS itself. Our very able counsel will have much more to say about this legal dispute over the interpretation of the Convention during the course of these oral hearings. But in my humble layman’s view, the central legal dispute in this case can be expressed as follows:
For the Philippines, the maritime entitlements of coastal States -- to a territorial sea, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, and the rights and obligations of the States Parties within these respective zones -- are established, defined and limited by the express terms of the Convention. Those express terms do not allow for -- in fact they preclude -- claims to broader entitlements, or sovereign rights, or jurisdiction, over maritime areas beyond the limits of the EEZ or continental shelf. In particular, the Convention does not recognize, or permit the exercise of, so called 'historic rights' in areas beyond the limits of the maritime zones that are recognized or established by UNCLOS.
Sadly, China disputes this, Mr. President, in both word and deed. It claims that it is entitled to exercise sovereign rights and jurisdiction, including the exclusive right to the resources of the sea and seabed, far beyond the limits established by the Convention, based



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