Phnom Penh, Cambodia
20 November 2012

Leaders and representatives of the 18 countries in the 7th East Asia Summit (EAS) including the ten-member ASEAN and the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand and Russia gathered for their annual forum in Phnom Penh.

Speaking at the 7th EAS, President Benigno S. Aquino III called on all parties to respect the exclusive economic zone and continental shelves of all coastal states, irrespective of their size or naval power. This is in conformity and in accordance with the established rules of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

President Aquino stressed that “this is also in compliance with the provisions of the (ASEAN-China) Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC).”

He quoted directly from paragraph five of the ten-year old DOC, which states that parties should “exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, including, among others, refraining from action of inhabiting on the presently uninhabited islands, reefs, shoals, cays and other features and to handle their differences in a constructive manner.”

The President also called on all claimant states in the West Philippine Sea to consider coming together to begin discussing the clarification of maritime claims, and the resolution of their maritime disputes in accordance with international law, especially UNCLOS.

“At no time in the contemporary history of the South China Sea has clarification and delimitation of maritime areas become more urgent and imperative than they are now,” President Aquino stressed.

He also emphasized that all parties to the proposed Code of Conduct (COC) in the South China Sea, when finalized, must be fully committed to its full implementation.

“As we in ASEAN embark on negotiating a Code of Conduct, we must make sure that its provisions are not only stronger, binding, and credible, but that all parties to the COC must be fully committed to its implementation,” President Aquino said.