NAM Calls for Maintaining Peace in South China Sea

In conformity with one its principle objectives of maintaining peace in the international order, the Non-Aligned Movement has time and again reiterated its call to the conflicting parties to solve all sovereignty and territorial disputes in the South China Sea by peaceful means without resorting to force and/or the threat to use force, and urged all parties to exercise restraint with a view to creating a positive climate for the eventual resolution of all contentious issues.

NAM firmly believes that rules of engagement by parties to the disputes in South China Sea should be in consonance with the principles contained in the 1992 ASEAN declaration on the South China Sea, and also the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The 1992 ASEAN declaration on ASEAN Declaration on South China Sea emphasises the necessity to resolve all sovereignty and jurisdictional issues pertaining to the South China Sea by peaceful means, without resort to force and urged all parties concerned to exercise restraint with the view to creating a positive climate for the eventual resolution of all disputes.

The Declaration also calls for the parties to the dispute to find means to explore the possibility of cooperation in the South China Sea relating to the safety of maritime navigation and communication, protection against pollution of the marine environment, coordination of search and rescue operations, efforts towards combatting piracy and armed robbery as well as collaboration in the campaign against illicit trafficking in drug, in a manner that does not impact their sovereignty. NAM has consistently reiterated the need for the full implementation of the above principles by all concerned parties.

The 17th NAM Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Venezuela 2016 also reaffirmed the Movement’s respect for and commitment to the freedom of navigation in and over- flight above the South China Sea, as provided for by the universally recognized principles of international law. In this context, NAM has welcomed the adoption of the Guidelines for the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in July 2011 in Bali, the guidelines of which provide a positive impetus in safeguarding peace and solidarity in the South China Sea, and the continued efforts by ASEAN and China to effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea as an important step to achieve a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), which would help to promote international peace and stability in the region. COC It was mandated by the 2002 China-ASEAN Declaration on Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea, a non-binding document calling for self-restraint and resolution of disputes through direct negotiations.

Non-Aligned Movement has also welcomed the positive contribution of the on-going bilateral and multilateral consultations among the parties concerned at the intergovernmental level, the extensive consultations at ASEAN-China dialogues, and the regular exchange of views in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the informal Workshops on Managing Potential Conflicts in the South China Sea and encouraged their continuance. The ARF was created in 1994 and was envisaged as a body that would play a proactive role in regional issues.

China, a major party in South China dispute has acknowledged NAM’s position in the South China Sea dispute. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang remarked on September 20, 2016 that NAM, as a hallmark of developing countries seeking strength for themselves through unity, has played an important role in upholding world peace and facilitating common development. As an observer member of NAM, China has always endorsed the purposes and principles of NAM and attached great importance to the role played by it in international affairs.

He further stated that China will firmly support NAM in having a bigger say in international affairs, keep extending and intensifying the traditional friendship with NAM, and expand mutually beneficial cooperation. China will continue to stand by developing countries and make unremitting efforts to safeguard the common interests of developing countries, jointly build a new model of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and forge a community of shared future for mankind. NAM has stood for maintaining peace in the South China Sea region, and has thus urged all parties concerned to refrain from any actions that may undermine peace, stability, trust and confidence in the region.

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