By Roy Mabasa
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations-China Foreign Ministers is scheduled to adopt the framework for the Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea at their meeting on Sunday (August 6), the Department of Foreign Affairs has disclosed.
The draft framework was completed last May during the 14th ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ meeting on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) held in Guiying, China. The consensus was reached ahead of the mid-2017 goal set by the leaders of ASEAN and China. The framework was subsequently endorsed by the senior officials.
According to DFA Spokesperson Rob Bolivar, the draft framework will only be approved this month became the meeting of the ASEAN-China Foreign Ministers is traditionally held in August.
“We could not schedule a special meeting for this so it was thought best to adopt the document at the regular meeting,” the DFA official said.
Member states of ASEAN and China signed the DOC in November 2002 in Cambodia after several years of prolonged negotiations.
The DOC was essentially a compromise between the two positions of doing nothing and having a legally- binding agreement. The text of the DOC reveals three purposes: promoting confidence-building measures, engaging in practical maritime cooperation, and setting the stage for the discussion and conclusion of a formal and binding COC.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the signing of the DOC.