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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) recently hosted a discussion on ‘International Maritime Order and the South China Sea’ with Professor Atsuko Kanehara of Sophia University, Japan.
Prof. Kanehara spoke on three aspects considered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in its ruling on the South China Sea dispute between the Philippines and China, including (i) the legality of ‘historic rights’ claims in the South China Sea, (ii) the impact of certain maritime activities on fisheries resources, and (iii) the legal status of the South China Sea’s maritime features under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
She argued that tensions exist between the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) regime under UNCLOS, and claims based on ‘historic rights.’ Prof. Kanehara also noted that, despite the broad acceptance of decisions made by the PCA, enforcing compliance with such decisions has become a crucial challenge.
Prof. Kanehara also stressed the significance of the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy to the economic and political security of Japan, given its dependence on the import of natural resources.
She concluded her presentation by noting that to uphold the rule of law on maritime affairs, countries need to further cooperate at a regional and global level. Dr. Dan Malika Gunasekara, Dean, Faculty of Management, Humanities and Social Sciences, CINEC Maritime Campus, was the invited local discussant, whose remarks focused on the PCA decision.
The subsequent discussion moderated by Dr. Dinusha Panditaratne, Nonresident Fellow at LKI, focused on the interplay between UNCLOS and customary international law.
Participants included senior representatives of think tanks and the armed services.