by Roy Mabasa
The foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union expressed their continued concerned about the situation in the South China Sea.
In their Joint Communiqué after their meeting held recently in Lucca, Italy, the G7 foreign ministers emphasized the fundamental importance of building trust and security and of the peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes in good faith and in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration.
“We reaffirm our commitment to further international cooperation on maritime security and safety as well as the protection of the marine environment,” the foreign ministers said. “We are convinced that only a combined effort will allow for a comprehensive response to threats to maritime security and ocean and seas conditions. We are committed to coordinating our actions internationally, regionally and nationally in order to achieve global benefits.”
They also reiterated their commitment to maintaining a rules-based maritime order based firmly on international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to peaceful dispute settlement, including through legal means and supported by confidence building measures.
“We reiterate our commitment to the freedoms of navigation and over-flight and other rights, freedoms, and internationally lawful uses of the seas,” the foreign ministers said.
They also emphasized their strong opposition to any unilateral actions which increase tensions, such as the threat or use of force, large scale land reclamation, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features and to comply with their obligations under international law.
The G7 also stressed that they consider the July 12, 2016 award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea.