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Moscow workshop seeks solutions to East Sea disputes

The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) and the Peace Foundation of Russia have jointly held an international workshop in Moscow to discuss the current situation in the East Sea and feasible solutions to disputes.

The event, running from September 20-22, drew IADL leaders as well as lawyers and experts from various countries, including Belgium, Russia, Italy, France, India, Japan, China, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Participants analysed the current situation in the East Sea and made recommendations on measures to handle disputes in the waters in a peaceful manner.

They held that although the East Sea situation seems to have calmed down compared to the time when the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruling was given in July 2016, there are many complicated latent problems in the sea, one of which is the illegal construction and reinforcement of artificial islands as well as militarization activities in the waters.

Some delegates voiced their opinions that China’s “nine-dash line” claims in the East Sea are groundless and do not abide to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982.

Participants also suggested a number of solutions to deal with disputes in a peaceful manner, including the use of mediation, arbitration and open consultation mechanisms in line with UNCLOS regulations. However, they asserted that in any solution, all parties must strictly abide by international law, including the PCA ruling on East Sea issue and the settlement of disputes through multilateral mechanisms.

At the event, IADL President Jeanne Mirer lauded the ideas and recommendations of delegates. She said that over the past years, the IADL has called for peaceful settlement of disputes in the East Sea in line with international law, as the disputes directly threaten peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region and the world.

She asked all delegates to report the outcomes of the event to their governments for consideration towards applying suitable ideas.

Mirer also suggested that all relevant parties end militarization activities as well as the illegal consolidation and reinforcement of artificial islands, in order to start the process of trust building to maintain and protect the ecosystem in the region.

She also stressed the need for strict obedience of international law, especially the UNCLOS, including state’s obligations in ensuring maritime and overflight rights, as well as peaceful settlement of disputes without using or threatening to use force.

She asked the IADL members to continue keeping a close watch on East Sea developments to give timely advice.

IADL is a non-governmental organisation serving as the advisory body of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Founded in 1946, the organisation has implemented its role in supporting and maintaining international law, protecting the rights of states in development, economic fairness and access to technology advances as well as natural resources.