Six-point principles affirms ASEAN's central role in regional issues
Following Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa’s shuttle diplomatic efforts, particularly his direct consultation with the foreign ministers of Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia last week, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has reached a consensus on six-point principles on the East Sea.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers re-affirmed the member countries’ commitments to the six principles, namely the full implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the Guidelines for the Implementation of the DOC, the early conclusion of a regional Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC), the full respect of the universally recognised principles of International Law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the continued exercise of self-restraint and non-use of force by all parties, and the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognised principles of International Law, including the UNCLOS.

The document reiterated ASEAN’s fundamental principles regarding the East Sea issue, and once again manifested the grouping’s solidarity and unanimity as well as its central role in “hot” issues of the region, including the East Sea issue.

Obviously, the adoption of the principles proved that peace, stability and maritime security and safety in the East Sea are a common concern of ASEAN countries as well as nations in the region and the world. The East Sea issue is not a bilateral matter between some ASE AN countries and China .

In the context of increasingly complicated developments in the East Sea, affecting peace, stability and maritime security, safety and freedom in the region, the issuance of ASEAN’s six-point principles reaffirmed ASEAN’s stance, asking concerned parties to respect and obey regional commitments and international law in their conducts in the East Sea.

Violations of the principles will impact on ASE AN. With the principle of considering the East Sea as the common matter of ASEAN, all member countries have to take responsibility for solving disputes through peaceful measures with respect for international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, fully implementing the DOC, early concluding the COC to effectively ensure peace, stability and security in the East Sea .

Since becoming an ASEAN member, Vietnam has always exerted efforts and made active contributions to maintaining solidarity and holding up ASEAN’s central role.

The country has contributed to promoting ASEAN’s role in implementing main goals and priorities of the association and the region, such as building the ASE AN Community, enhancing regional connectivity and linkages, narrowing development gaps, promoting sustainable and equal development, strengthening relations with partners and promoting ASEAN’s central role in the forming regional architecture.

Together with other countries, Vietnam has raised ASEAN’s proactive and active role in building an environment of peace, security, stability and cooperation in the region, especially ensuring the observation of international law’s principles, peacefully solving disputes without the use of force.

Vietnam’s stance on the East Sea is in line with the grouping’s common viewpoint. At the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-45), the East Asian Summit (EAS) and the ASE AN Regional Forum (ARF) recently held in Phnom Penh, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh expressed concern over recent complicated developments in the East Sea, violating sovereign rights and jurisdictional rights over economic exclusive zones and continental shelves of coastal nations.

He at the same time stressed that countries must respect principles of international law and the 1982 UNCLOS, including regulations on respecting economic exclusive zones and continental shelves of coastal nations, not using force, settling disputes through peaceful measures, fully implementing the DOC and early concluding the COC.

Now more than ever before, ASE AN countries should raise their responsibility, maintain and consolidate internal solidarity, bring into full play the main role in prioritised and essential issues of ASE AN and the region, particularly regarding the building of the Community, accelerating regional connectivity and linkages, building an environment of peace, stability, security and cooperation, enhancing relations with partners, coping with emerging challenges, for the sake of peace, stability, security, cooperation and development in the region.

Vietnam hopes and believes that Cambodia, in its capacity as ASEAN Chair 2012 will make active efforts for and contributions to maintaining solidarity among ASEAN as well as promoting the grouping’s central role in regional issues.