WASHINGTON, DC — Democratic members of the US Congress’ armed services and foreign affairs committees called on the Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), following the International Tribunal’s rejection of China’s claim to the West Philippine Sea/South China Sea.
“We welcome the Tribunal’s ruling today in the case of The Republic of the Philippines vs. The People’s Republic of China. The ruling underscores the importance of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We view it as binding on both parties involved and we hope that all parties will abide by it,” the statement dated July 12 said.
Joining in the statement were Rep. Adam Smith (D-Washington), Ranking Member of the Committee on Armed Services; Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-New York), Ranking Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-California); Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island); Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Washington); Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam); Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut); Rep. John Garamendi (D-California); Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California); Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California); Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-New York); Rep. Jerry Connolly (D-Virginia); Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida); Rep. Bill Keating (D-Massachusetts); Rep. Ami Bera (D-California); Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-California); and Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas).
The statement said the Tribunal’s decision presents several opportunities.
“Following the Tribunal’s decision, we hope that all claimants will renew their efforts to resolve the maritime disputes in the South China Sea in a manner that is peaceful and consistent with international law. We commend the government of the Philippines for its decision to present its case through international arbitration.
“The Tribunal’s ruling is significant. Governments must decide whether or not the Asia-Pacific region will continue to be guided by the rules, norms, and respect for international law that have made it one of the most prosperous regions of the world.
“The ruling also presents an opportunity for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to speak with one voice on a matter of deep political and strategic importance, not just to the Philippines, but to the its entire membership.”
Significantly, the legislators called on the US Senate “to do what the past three presidents, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard have long requested,” that is, ratify UNCLOS.
“Finally, the United States Senate should take steps to do what the past three presidents, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Coast Guard have long requested: to ratify UNCLOS and to protect U.S. interests by ensuring that the United States is a full and participating party to this important international agreement.
“The United States will continue to uphold its commitment to the Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty of 1951, to uphold its commitment to international law in the Asia-Pacific region, and to promote the freedom of navigation in the seas and in the air in accordance with international law.”