Press Releases South China Sea: Statement by the Spokesperson on the anniversary of the Award rendered in the arbitration between the Philippines and China

South China Sea: Statement by the Spokesperson on the anniversary of the Award rendered in the arbitration between the Philippines and China

12 July marks the eighth anniversary of the award issued by the tribunal constituted under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the arbitration instituted by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China concerning the South China Sea. This award represents a significant milestone in the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea. Dispute settlement mechanisms provided under UNCLOS contribute to the maintenance and furthering of the international legal order based on the rule of law.

The EU views the 2016 Arbitral Award as legally binding upon the parties to the proceedings, including the important finding that the Second Thomas Shoal is within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of the Philippines.

All parties involved must respect and honour the award. Upholding the freedoms, rights and duties established in UNCLOS, in particular the freedoms of navigation and overflight, is of paramount importance for reducing tensions in the region. It is also essential for maintaining, strengthening and deepening peace and security, while ensuring safe, free and open sea supply routes worldwide.

The EU reiterates its support for efforts by ASEAN and China to finalise negotiations on an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, as well as any other dialogue to resolve tensions, fully consistent with UNCLOS and other obligations under international law.

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