Published on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 00:00
Written by DUCKY PAREDES
By A Web design Company
‘Instead of doing things like sending vessels to Panatag Shoal or Huangyan Island or Scarborough Shoal, it would probably be best if both sides kept away from this area for a while.’
In both our countries — China and the Philippines — there will be hotheads and also those who would avoid a bloody confrontation resulting from our similar claims of ownership over some rocks jutting out of the water in whatever we call those waters — either the South China Sea or the Western Philippine Sea.
What is there of value in these waters? Fish, obviously; some coral; perhaps, oil and/or gas. Perhaps more important than anything else is sovereignty.
China claims that this area has always been a part of China. The Philippines cites the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The Law of the Sea Treaty, formally known as the Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS III, was adopted in 1982. This established a comprehensive set of rules governing the oceans and to replace previous UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, one in 1958 (UNCLOS I) and another in 1960 (UNCLOS II) that were believed to be inadequate.
Negotiated in the 1970s, the treaty was heavily influenced by the “New International Economic Order,” a set of economic principles first formally advanced at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). That agenda called for “fairer” terms of trade and development financing for the so-called under-developed and developing nations.
Another way the New International Economic Order has been described is “redistributionist.”
The Law of the Sea Treaty calls for technology transfers and wealth transfers from developed to undeveloped nations. It also requires parties to the treaty to adopt regulations and laws to control pollution of the marine environment. Such provisions were among the reasons the United States rejected the treaty in 1982. The US felt that UNCLOS III was “out of step with the concepts of economic liberty and free enterprise that Ronald Reagan was to inspire throughout the world.”
Since then, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee recommended accession to the treaty by a unanimous vote in March 2004. Up to now, however, the US Senate has yet to vote on UNCLOS III
In additional to the economic provisions, the treaty also establishes specific jurisdictional limits on the ocean area that countries may claim, including a 12-mile territorial sea limit and a 200-mile exclusive economic zone limit.
Some proponents of the treaty believe that the treaty will establish a system of property rights for mineral extraction in deep-sea beds, making the investment in such ventures more attractive.
The 202-page Law of the Sea Treaty entered into force in 1994 and has been ratified by 153 countries. Among the things that the United States objects to is that the treaty created the International Seabed Authority, giving it total jurisdiction over all the oceans and everything in them, including the ocean floor with “all” its riches (“solid, liquid or gaseous mineral resources”), along with the power to regulate 70 percent of the world’s surface.
The Philippine position on this is that the disputed territories are within our 200-mile exclusive economic zone although these are already outside our 12-mile territorial sea limit.
Actually, there are a lot of disputes over the exact extent of exclusive economic zones.
One instance was the Cod Wars, a series of confrontations in the 1950s and 1970s between the United Kingdom and Iceland regarding fishing rights in the North Atlantic. In 1972, Iceland unilaterally declared an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extending beyond its territorial waters, before announcing plans to reduce overfishing. It policed its quota system with the Icelandic Coast Guard, leading to a series of net-cutting incidents with British trawlers that fished the areas. As a result, the Royal Navy deployed warships and tugboats to act as a deterrent against any future harassment of British fishing crews by the Icelandic craft, resulting in direct confrontations between Icelandic patrol vessels and British warships, which included ramming incidents.
The dispute ended in 1976 after Iceland threatened to close a major NATO base in retaliation for Britain’s deployment of naval vessels within the disputed 200 nautical mile limit. The British government conceded, and agreed that after 1 December 1976 British vessels would not fish within the previously disputed area.
Russia and Norway also had a dispute over their EEZs. A treaty was worked out between the two countries and ratified in 2010.
Thus, while an Exclusive Economic Zone seems like a title to a piece of the earth’s seas, in reality, for peace and understanding, in actual practice, one ought to talk about it with them on how to share it with one’s neighbors.
Hopefully, this dispute over our EEZs is something that both the Philippines and China can talk about and resolve peacefully. I believe this is the only possible peaceful solution.
Certainly, the internet battle over the weekend, where Chinese cyber terrorists went into the University of the Philippines website and wrecked it followed by Pinoy vandals doing the same thing to several Chinese websites is not the way to go.
Instead of doing things like sending vessels to Panatag Shoal or Huangyan Island or Scarborough Shoal, it would probably be best if both sides kept away from this area for a while. Of course that is not going to happen unless there are talks between the two countries or even just between the Chinese Ambassador and our DFA.
Neither side wants the rift to get any nastier than it already is. For the Philippines, going to war is a no-no. We obviously cannot win one against China anyway.
Valley Golf and Country Club’s 13th Don Celso Tuason and Valley Founders’ Cup annual tournament will be held from April 25 to 29 for a maximum of 280 players at the South and Executive courses. The tournament is a 36-hole two-player team competition (a member and his guest). Club members will use their February 2010 Valley Golf Board Handicap Index. Maximum handicap allowed for members for the tournament will be 36.
Guests must have an index of 20.8 or lower. Maximum handicap allowed for guests for the tournament will be 24. In case the guest has a higher index than 20.8, he shall play to the maximum index allowed.
There will be booths selling golf paraphernalia throughout the tournament.
Several Mitsubishi cars will be raffled off.
Unlike in prior years, there will be cocktails after the afternoon flights on Friday, April 28 and a full-course dinner at the Awards Night on Saturday, April 29.
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