The International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) is a non-governmental organization with consultative status before the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). IADL was established in 1946 to support and uphold international law, and to protect the rights of nations to development, economic equality and access to scientific achievements as well as their own natural resources.
IADL has for many years called for the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea in accordance with international law. IADL has done this because these disputes pose a threat to regional and international peace and security, stability, co-operation and development. At its 2015 Bureau meeting in December in Paris, IADL passed a resolution, which expresses support for the implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
IADL is aware of the claim made by the Philippines against China to the permanent Court of Arbitration. IADL believes this claim is consistent with its support for peaceful resolution of disputes using international law.
On July 12, 2016, the UN Arbitral Tribunal decided the territorial dispute over the South China Sea between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, using the UNCLOS as its basis. The Tribunal dismissed China’s claims of historic rights over resources in the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’, declared the status of features in the Spratly Islands, and denounced China for failing to protect and preserve the marine environment.
IADL believes this to be a definitive ruling by the body charged with interpreting UNCLOS. However, more must be addressed in order to ensure peace, stability, cooperation and development in the South China Sea and the Asia–Pacific region. These issues include the protection of the rights of all nations to development, economic equality access to scientific achievements and control over natural resources, under the basic principles of the UN Charter, self-determination of peoples through their respective states, and equality between small and large nations.
IADL is aware that China has stated it does not recognize the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. IADL reasserts the urgent need for negotiations among the coastal States of the South China Sea in order to reach a peaceful solution of all aspects of the existing dispute. That negotiation must be informed by international law and seek in good faith a solution to be agreed upon by all parties and calls upon all parties to avoid activities which escalate tension and militarization in the South China Sea.
To this end IADL support the conference of experts and lawyers promoted by the Institute of Legal Studies of the National Research Council to be held in Rome on December 2, 2016, with the participation of qualified delegations from all concerned countries and the scientific community.