Statement of Confederation of Lawyers and the Pacific (COLAP) on the South China Sea

Confederation of Lawyers of Asia and the Pacific (COLAP) is an organization whose members are lawyers, law experts, judges and prosecutors from 21 countries in the region. The Confederation was established with the aim of promoting peace, human rights and people’s lawyering in the Asia Pacific region. Over the years, COLAP has held various conferences to discuss the contemporary challenges to the people and their movements in Asia Pacific such as those involving peace, development, sovereignty, democracy and human rights.
COLAP is aware that the legal dispute in South China Sea has developed more complicated recently. After Malaysia filed a submission on an extended continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines to the United Nations Commission on the Limits on the Continental Shelf (CLCS) on 12/12/2019, China sent a diplomatic note to UN secretary general (No. CML/13/2019) to object Malaysia’s submission, claiming that it has sovereignty and historic rights in the South China Sea and the features (which China named as Dongsha Qundao, Xisha Qundao, Zhongsha Qundao and Nansha Qundao) have internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf. Following that, several countries in the region, namely The Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia also sent diplomatic notes (No. 000191-2020 sent by The Philippines on 06/3/2020, No.22/HC-2020 sent by Vietnam on 30/3/2020, No. 126/POL-703/V/20 sent by Indonesia on 26/5/2020) to object the above claims made by China. Even US, which doesn’t have any claims in South China Sea, sent a diplomatic note on 1/6/2020 rejecting China’s maritime claims as inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982).
Given the recent developments in South China Sea, COLAP emphasizes the importance and necessity of strictly adhering to the international law, especially the UNCLOS 1982. COLAP considers the Arbitration Ruling in the Philippines v China dispute made by an arbitral tribunal constituted under the
UNCLOS 1982 as an important instrument which is legally binding for all related parties. COLAP calls for demilitarization in the South China Sea and urges all
related parties to resolve dispute peacefully and in accordance with international law including the UNCLOS 1982, on the basis of mutual respect for sovereignty, sovereign right and jurisdiction.#

June 14,2020