This dialogue focused on recent developments in the South China sea from a legal perspective and how stakeholders could cooperate to manage disputes in the region.

It is timely, as in the past months developments in the sea have raised security concerns for countries in the region as well as other major stakeholders. China and ASEAN countries are currently negotiating the Code of Conduct of parties in the South China sea (COC), attracting significant attention of legal experts and scholars. However, two years after the release of the Arbitral Tribunal Award in the case between the Philippines and China regarding the sea, no significant improvement has been achieved to reduce disputes in the region.

Photo: Australian Embassy Hanoi

Some 80 participants from Vietnamese Government ministries, academia, the Diplomatic community in Hanoi and Australian Alumni have discussed a wide range of legal issues concerning the South China sea, including the rule of law, the status of structures in the sea, the Arbitral Tribunal Award, the idea of “joint development” between states in the South China sea, the COC, and how to promote a common interpretation on international law there.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Le Hai Binh, DAV Vice President highlighted the role of international law in maintaining rule-based international order. He argued that international law is the backbone for international and regional security and stability. With regard to the sea, all main stakeholders explicitly announced that they abide by international law.

However, their different interpretations of the international law have been a major challenge for regional cooperation. Dr. Binh, therefore, contended that such dialogue would help promote shared understanding among experts, policy makers, and the wider audience, thus contribute to narrow perception gaps and facilitate cooperation in the sea.

While Mr. Peter Girke, Resident Representative of KAS, underlined that rule of law and peace are core values of KAS, saying that the South China sea is in dire need to find joint and peaceful solutions respecting international law to settle the conflicts about territorial claims./.