International conference on East Sea wraps up in Da Nang

The two-day 10th international conference on the East Sea (South China Sea), themed “Cooperation for Regional Security and Development”, wrapped up in the central city of Da Nang on November 9.
Participants discuss on the sidelines of the conference (Photo: VNA)
Participants discuss on the sidelines of the conference (Photo: VNA)

During the second working day, domestic and foreign scholars, academics, and diplomats assessed the situation in the sea over the past time and sought solutions to building trust, managing, and step-by-step addressing disputes to maintain peace and stability in the sea.

Many scholars shared the view that the activity of reinforcing force-building and militarization in the sea poses the biggest risk of uncertainty to the region as it is happening fast. Some worried about the dual-use operation of units in the name of civil works like observatories in the area.

Some newly-emerging issues that could impact security and order in the East Sea was analyzed, such as the increasing use of unmanned vehicles in the absence of related international standards.

Discussing measures to build trust and maintain peace and stability in the East Sea, scholars said parties concerned should reconsider their demands which are not in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), thereby narrowing disputes and gradually settling disputes by peaceful means. 

They warned that negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) will take much time. 

Delegates from countries outside the region wished that ASEAN and China would improve transparency in negotiations and respect legitimate interests of those nations. 

Apart from COC, scholars said ASEAN member states could propose ideas to build other codes of conduct in the East Sea, including the one on unexpected encounters in the air, and standards on treating plastic wastes at sea. 

As there are different interpretations of the 1982 UNCLOS and disagreement about The Hague Tribunal’s ruling about the East Sea issue, several opinions suggested that ASEAN should invite major countries to hold dialogues to reach consensus on the application of the UNCLOS as well as regulations regarding maritime freedom. 

Director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam Nguyen Vu Tung said after 10 editions, the seminar has offered a clearer insight into legal aspects and scholars shared view that international law needs to be respected and fully enforced.

The event was co-held by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV), the Foundation for East Sea Studies (FESS), and the Vietnam Lawyers’ Association (VLA).

The event included eight sessions, entitled “East Sea: the Heart of the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region”, “East Sea in the Spotlight: a10-Year Recap”, “Evolving Claims and Positions over the East Sea: Continuities and Changes”, “Major Powers: Engagements or Disengagements?”, “The Buildup of Forces in the East Sea”, “Confidence Building”, “Preventative Diplomacy”, and “Dispute Resolution, Order, and Disorder in the East Sea: Reflections”.

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