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The Scarborough Files: A Primer on the Panatag Shoals

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How can we improve? China, in particular, has shown a radical departure from its traditional stance on water laws, condemning illegal fishing practices when they themselves have been accused of sponsoring illegal fisherman to fish in the both the East and South China Sea. From the beginning of the debate, UNCLOS has been trying to identify the basics of the problem with talks of working towards a solution. Unfortunately, the debates never truly moved passed the identification and talks.

After 2 days of debates, no true solution has been proposed. With only one draft resolution in, UNCLOS does not seem to be much further along on its goals to solve the issue of illegal fishing. It is more so that delegates are debating who should be the one to propose the solution. China later summarized the meetings into 3 aspects: global collaboration, the vagueness of UNCLOS, and potential long-term solutions. Along these lines, China urged the committee to move towards the debate on the long-term solutions. Eventually, near the end of the debate, the first draft resolution was finally proposed by the delegate of Mexico, who had mostly been absent in the moderated debate.

It appears as if the committee had resisted and was unwilling to participate in a debate on the issue of illegal fishing. Despite the final submission of the draft resolution, most of the delegates who have worked on the resolution are not delegates that have participated heavily in the debate. It appears as if the issue of illegal fishing has mostly been either forgotten or put aside by the committee. The committee is much more interested in displaying dominance over each other through ways of suppressing useful ideas, calling for unnecessary motions, and providing non-constructive responses.

While a draft resolution was eventually submitted, it failed with 11 votes for and 16 votes against. UNCLOS has been ineffective in coming up with a proper long-term solution and the potential in future debates looks bleak. The Korea-Mexico-Kenya pact present their draft resolution, against the upcoming one by the USA-China duo, suggesting the implementation of an income-proportionate tax against illegal fisheries. By Ng J-Cyn, Al Jazeera IUU fishing is a massive global billion dollar liability that has to be combatted as quickly as possible due to the devastating impacts it has on marine life, ecosystems, the injustice it does to legal fisheries and the other illegal activities that are involved.

This does not only pose health risks on the consumers and reveals the insinuous destruction being done on the marine ecosystem but reflects very badly on our law enforcement. Occasionally reeling into unrealistic or unethical measures, UNCLOS got quite some laughter out of their unmoderated caucuses during the brainstorming, reflecting the extreme complexity and challenge of finding a good resolution for this century-long problem. Many countries were very enthusiastic about being the leader in drafting up the ultimate resolution, with China and the United States of America USA teaming up and repeatedly emphasizing on solutions to be implemented into their draft resolution.

By the middle of Day 2, the Singapore delegate that had contributed much in firing up the discussion on Day 1 K. Notably, the most active speakers came from China, USA, Brazil, Australia and Japan who constantly questioned one another to build up more concrete arguments or specific solutions. After dragging on the finalization of their solutions, two draft agreements were finally crafted, one from the USA-China alliance and the other from the Mexico-Korea-Kenya team.

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The documents will be placed under further scrutiny and negotiation before one will be improved and passed off in the upcoming discussion. With the recent uproar of nationalist narratives in China concerning illegal fishing in the South China Sea alongside Indonesia and South Africa improving their efforts to salvage the illegal fishery crises, we can only pin that much hope in the UNCLOS committee.

However, if they invest generously and fund the correct committees, as suggested by the Chile delegate, with sustained and persistent effort provided by each and every country, UNCLOS would be able to unite and stand against IUU, tackling the root problems of lack of transparency and responsibility in legal enforcement once and for all. No one knows what the logic behind it was, what it really means or even who drew it. Originally the line actually comprised eleven dashes, but two were mysteriously removed in and a tenth was added in On neither occasion was any reason stated for the alterations nor warning given to the international community.

The Nine-Dash Line has always been controversial. One day after the line was presented to the UN, Vietnam and Malaysia jointly filed a protest against it. The Philippines, Brunei and Indonesia have all since formally protested the line. Not only navigation rights but also extraction rights and fishing rights have been hotly contested. The case started three years ago and pertained to Chinese activities in the area around the Spratly Islands. To date, China shows no sign of adhering to these demands; President Xi Jinping has rejected the ruling and insisted that Chinese activities in the region will continue.

All this could set a dangerous precedent. If other countries see China ignore the restrictions on interference with freedom of navigation, then they could use this as an excuse to do the same.

There is also a real risk of this dispute causing an international incident which could escalate into a conflict. We could see a repeat of the mid-air collision between a USAF reconnaissance plane and a PLA fighter jet, or a confrontation between two naval vessels could result in open hostilities.

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Finally there is a political risk that comes with this situation. The Philippines and the USA have a longstanding mutual defence agreement dating to ; American inaction on the matter could further degrade US-Filipino relations that are already strained following the policies and public statements of their newly elected president, Rodrigo Duterte. It is crucial to signal that the world speaks with one voice on these vital matters, and the most powerful country in the world signing the treaty would send that message. View On WordPress. Developmets at the Fiery Cross Reef as of March 18, Chinese Hit U.

The ongoing conflict in the South China Sea, or the West Philippine Sea, whichever perspective you want to look at it from, is not between the Philippines and China but of China versus the United States. The submission of documents and oral hearings from both India and Bangladesh was concluded in December and the Court officially conveyed the result to both parties on 7 July The judgment is final and cannot be appealed against.

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Among the five arbitrators only the Indian arbitrator delivered a dissenting judgment. India accepted the judgment and reportedly said that the judgment would further enhance goodwill between the two countries by putting an end to a long standing issue. It went in favour of Bangladesh because Bangladesh has been awarded 19, sq km of the total 25, sq km sea area 76 per cent , leaving 6, sq km 24 per cent to India.

For Bangladesh, the area in the west with India is per cent because there is no other maritime area available for Bangladesh to its west and it is vital for Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal to have this area under its jurisdiction. The first session on Indo-Bangladesh sea boundary talks took place in in Dhaka at the official level.

Later, several meetings took place at the level of Foreign Secretaries. Although the sea boundary talks were renewed in , , under the caretaker government , and in March under the Hasina government, it could not be resolved because of the differences over boundary delimitations.

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When the Hasina government found that the talks had stalled, it had no option but to look out for the involvement of a third party to resolve the dispute. The judgment stands out for several following reasons. First, both Bangladesh and India have settled the maritime boundary through the legal mechanism under the UNCLOS, which demonstrates that the two countries are committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

It is not a complete victory for Bangladesh because India has won on some issues. It is however a victory for fairness and justice. The judgment is a win for international law which both countries have always respected. Second, the judgment substantially contributes to the development of maritime international law.