return icon Vietnamnet.vn

Note verbale 'warfare' debated at East Sea conference in Hanoi

Experts believe that smaller countries can collectively and peacefully address disputes through note verbales.

Participants paid much heed to the note verbale 'warfare' debated at an international conference on the East Sea held in Hanoi earlier this week as new developments in this highly disputed sea catch global attention.

{keywords}
Militarization is part of reasons triggering note verbale 'battle' in the South China Sea. Photo: Google Earth

Discussions have featured different approaches of officials and experts who included the German Ambassador to Vietnam Guido Hildner, experts from University of the Philippines, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, Wuhan University, and the Vietnam Society of International Law.

Speakers discussed the significance of “the note verbale debate” to the trajectory of events in the East Sea, its implications to the Code of Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (COC) negotiations and the prospect of cooperation in the East Sea.

Debate kicked off with EU Rear Admiral Jurgen Ehle’s speech on EU interests in the East Sea in terms of stability and trade routes, threats to cause precedents to be replicated in other seas.

Ehle said the EU won’t allow any to undermine international law, saying that the EU is in the process of developing an Indo-Pacific policy, incorporating member states’ policy.

Prof Jay Batongbacal at University of the Philippines affirmed the notes verbales show common grounds aligned with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The countries must unify based on such grounds and together face the most powerful claimant.

Dr. Damos Agusman from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the note verbale chain is an exercise of lawfare. He highlighted positions of each by mostly using legal terms with less political consideration involved.

Meanwhile, Mr. Andrew Murdoch at the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said that note verbale is not intervention nor dispute politicization given their content and legal effects, arguing that the content should use legal points and carefully framed. To make the lawfare effect, it’s necessary to respond to China’s claims, practice peaceful settlement, and bring clarity to other claims.

Commander Jonathan G. Odom at George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, the US, believed that notes verbales have pros like peaceful, official and transparent practice and cons namely further complication and not narrowing claimants’ differences. The notes will restrictively impact on the COC but show smaller countries can collectively and peacefully address disputes.

Ms. Nguyen Thanh Ha from the Vietnam Society of International Law said the 2016 PCA ruling and new notes verbales show increasing shared agreements and consolidate UNCLOS regimes in the East Sea.

Meanwhile, Prof Lei Xiaolu from Wuhan University said the UK and France have own straight baselines while opposing China using the same in East Sea. He pointed out negative impacts of the notes including increasing interference from non-coastal states; overstressing disputes and reducing political will for functional cooperation. 

Reality

Notes verbales, unsigned formal diplomatic communication filed by other states to the United Nations to protest China’s maritime claims in the East Sea show that they challenge the legal basis of China’s claims on the basis of an Arbitral Tribunal Award established under UNCLOS Annex VII.

According to Emeritus Professor Carl Thayer, a veteran Southeast Asia expert, in the case of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a note verbale sets out a state’s official legal position on claims for an extended continental shelf. If a state fails to respond to a claim, this could be taken as evidence that the state acquiesced.

In other words, China must submit a counter claim to demonstrate that the issue in question is in dispute. Under the CLCS’ Rules of Procedure, the Commission cannot proceed if there is a dispute between two or more states.

Over the past years, there have been more than 20 diplomatic notes and statement clarifying legal stances of both regional and extra-regional countries with regards to various aspects of the East Sea.

These newly clarified positions would not only have far reaching legal implications but also affect future activities and cooperation in the East Sea.

So far, a number of countries have involved in the “Notes Verbales lawfare” including Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, the US, and Australia.

In addition, other countries namely France, Germany, and the UK, commonly known as EU Three or E3, also filed a joint note verbale to the United Nations to reject China’s sweeping claims over the East Sea, heating up the lawfare.

Of the countries involved, Malaysia plays an important role as it is the first country rejecting the legal basis of China's claims. In December 2019, it made a submission for an extended continental shelf in the northern part of the East Sea to the United Nations.

If the CLCS ruled in favor of Malaysia, this would be a huge blow to China’s legal position not to say China’s prestige, Prof. Thayer said. Hanoitimes

Linh Pham

International conference discusses co-operation in East Sea in time of turbulence

International conference discusses co-operation in East Sea in time of turbulence

One of the bright spots in the East Sea tension this year is that many countries have clarified their legal stance in the sea through diplomatic notes exchanged at the UN, said Dr Pham Lan Dung, acting director of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam.

12th East Sea International Conference opens

12th East Sea International Conference opens

The 12th East Sea International Conference, with the theme “Maintaining Peace and Cooperation through a Time of Turbulence”, kicked off on November 16 in both the in-person and online formats.

MORE NEWS

HCMC proposes developing huge port in Can Gio

The HCMC government has proposed developing an international container port in the outlying district of Can Gio with an estimated investment of some US$6 billion to aid the local marine economy.

500 tonnes of Vietnamese-labelled rice exported to EU

Loc Troi Group JSC exported nearly 500 tonnes of rice labelled with its own brand name “Com Vietnam Rice” to the EU markets in June.

HCM City collects US$7 million of taxes, fines from people with Google incomes

Ho Chi Minh City has collected taxes and fines worth a total of 169 billion VND (7.26 million USD) from 38 individuals who earned incomes through Google in the first half of the year.

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JULY 1

Vietnam develops world’s first effective vaccine against ASF: German newspaper

Samsung emerges as largest foreign investor in Vietnam

Vietnam has attracted more than US$14 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first half of 2022, and electronic giant Samsung has attained its position as the largest investor thanks to its additional large-scale investments.

VIETNAM BUSINESS NEWS JULY 1

Vietnam’s economic growth accelerates on back of exports, manufacturing: Bloomberg

Some 155 Vietnamese athletes to partake in ASEAN Para Games 2022

The ASEAN Para Games 2022 is a qualifier for athletes to win tickets to Paralympic Paris 2024.

Anti-corruption drive - an irreversible trend in Vietnam, says Party leader

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong reiterated the Party’s strong stance on combatting corruption among ranking officials while addressing an anti-corruption conference in Hanoi on June 30, stating that it will be an enduring policy.

Vietnam’s African swine fever vaccine to be widely used by late 2022

The vaccination is expected to be carried out in Vietnam from July to the end of this year.

Noi Bai International Airport’s domestic flight volume grows rapidly

Noi Bai International Airport’s domestic flight volume has been growing rapidly, 40 per cent higher than the peak time of summer in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magazines exceeding their functions need to be eliminated: journalist

Many magazines go beyond their functions and produce content beyond the principles and purposes stated in licenses.

Investors to be able to trade stocks on T+2 settlement cycle

According to the new draft, securities will be transferred to investors' accounts within the trading hours of T+2.

Vietnam jumps eight notches in international beauty ranking

Vietnam has moved up eight positions to 42nd in the grand slam ranking for beauty over the past two years, announced international beauty site Globalbeauties.

Thailand Fashion Week 2022 features Vietnamese culture

A Vietnamese collection imbued with Vietnamese culture dubbed 'Sounds Of Vietnamese And Colours Of Five Continents' kicked off Thailand Fashion Week in Bangkok on June 30.

Small alleys offer authentic taste of Hanoi cuisine

Small and sneaky alleys in the Hanoi Old Quarter not only offer enjoyable experiences of the capital city’s time-honoured culture but also the authentic taste of Hanoi cuisine.
back_to_top