Myanmar Election result – Fits to Chair ASEAN: North Korea, Spratly Sea disputes

The leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) meet in Phnom Penh, where competing claims to parts of the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) and North Korea's planned satellite launch are dominating discussions.

Myanmar's political reform process has been a high-profile objective for the 10 member bloc of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Last November 2011 the group agreed to grant Myanmar the chair of the bloc in 2014 on the basis of its democratic reforms.

After Sunday's by-election result, which Myanmar or also called Burma had invited ASEAN representatives to observe, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa praised the vote's execution.

"As far as Indonesia is concerned, this is a very good development. An important step in further making irreversible the democratization process in Myanmar."

This year's ASEAN chair, Cambodia, released a statement calling the election "successful" and "peaceful" and urged the international community to consider lifting longstanding economic sanctions.

ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan said he was "encouraged" by the vote in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

"We hope that this will contribute to a more effective integration of Myanmar in the global community and Myanmar and ASEAN will be able to work on other issues that will be more meaningful and contributing to the well-being of the people of Myanmar, rather than being stuck on the issue of instability and lack of political reconciliation in Myanmar."

During the leaders' summit this, territorial disputes in the West Philippines Sea (South China Sea) are also expected to be a high-profile issue.

Four ASEAN members claim rights to parts of the Disputed Spratlys in Kalayaan Group of Islands'  West Philippines Sea (South China Sea), along with China and Taiwan.

At a meeting of foreign ministers on Monday (April 2, 2012), the Philippine's  Minister of foreign affairs, Albert del Rosario, urged his counterparts to take concrete steps forward on a collective code of conduct, or COC, for dealing with the dispute. Del Rosario said he hopes ASEAN will formulate its stance by the end of the year, but acknowledged the group remains divided over how to proceed.

"I think the difference of opinion lies in the fact that we are advocating a draft of the COC be prepared before we sit down with China. Others are taking the view that China should be invited to come in for the initial discussions."

ASEAN ministers also expressed concern over North Korea's announcement of a planned satellite rocket launch. Observers have said the rocket trajectory could see it head south near Philippines, Australian or Indonesian territory.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Natalegawa called on North Korea to refrain from the launch.

"We are obviously deeply concerned by the prospect of the launch of the satellite, both in terms of the safety and security issues. But most of all, and not least, in terms of the disruption it is causing to the conditions conducive for the resumptions of six party talks."

April 2, 2012 meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers is ahead of Tuesday's main leaders' summit.

ASEAN must first agree on Code of Conduct in West Philippine Sea before meeting with China

The Philippines said that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) must first agree among its members on the draft of the Code of Conduct of Parties in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) before meeting with China.

Foreign Affairs Minister Albert del Rosario issued the statement during the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting here in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Monday (April 2, 2012). He reiterated that the West Philippine Sea issue should be resolved peacefully in accordance with international law.

Del Rosario, during the meeting, also reaffirmed the Philippines' commitment towards peace and stability in the Asia-PAcific region. "A decade ago, ASEAN and China signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in Phnom Penh," he said.

"As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the said declaration, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to the maintenance of peace and stability in the region," he said.

The Foreign Affairs secretary also told the ASEAN Foreign Ministers meeting that a working group of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting is currently working to identify the main elements of the regional Code of Conduct.

He said that the Code of Conduct must contain "guidelines by which stakeholder-states are to conduct themselves in the West Philippine Sea; mechanisms on dispute settlement including the appropriate structure for its effective implementation; clarification and segregation of disputed from non-disputed areas in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and provisions relating to cooperative activities, as may be appropriate, for the disputed areas."

Del Rosario also reiterated the Philippines' position to adhere to the primacy of international law, including UNCLOS, in resolving the territorial disputes over the West Philippine Sea.

"On the Code of Conduct, it is important for ASEAN to first agree among themselves on the draft text of the code before meeting with China," Del Rosario said. "I reiterate that the Philippines adhere to the primacy of international law in resolving the disputes, the United Nations Convention on Laws of Sea (UNCLOS)."

"We believe that a rules-based approach under the dispute settlement mechanism established in UNCLOS is the legitimate solution in addressing conflicting and overlapping claims in the West Philippine Sea," the Foreign Affairs secretary added.

He further said that the Philippines hope that the Code of Conduct will be a real "move forward" not merely in terms of form, but more importantly in substance.

During the previous ASEAN summit, President Benigno S. Aquino III proposed the creation of a Zone of Peace, Freedom, Friendship and Cooperation (ZoPFFC) in the West Philippine Sea.

Following the UNCLOS; China is even taking advantage of their claim because they already won the disputes. If the United Nation will grant the disputes favorable to  the ASEAN countries then nothing to lose of china as they are just a mere claimant without actual ownership and a big lose to the Philippines and Vietnam who invested Billions to defend its territory from China's invasion.

If the United Nations will grant in favor of China; double winning of China as they are just a mere claimant without actual ownership and won the disputes. A triple lose could be for Vietnam and the Philippines as they would lose their territory plus they invested a lot to defend its territory.

If United Nations will grant fairly for 200 Nautical Miles Exclusive economic Zone then a new territory of China will born as Part of the Paracel could be officially recognize as territory of Vietnam and China but China and Taiwan would lost its claim in Spratlys as they are 900 Miles away from the claim islands which UNCLOS is not applicable to validate their claim. 

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