New Delhi, July 13: Supporting the ‘United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’ (UNCLOS), India on Wednesday appealed the relevant parties engaged in South China Sea dispute for peaceful settlement. The Arbitral Tribunal gave its verdict on Tuesday in the matter concerning the Philippines and China on the disputed islands of Spratly and Scarborough Shoal. Favouring Philippines, Tribunal said that China has no historic rights to its claimed ‘nine-dash line’and it had caused severe harm to the coral reef environment by building artificial islands. In response China had rejected the decision calling it null and void.
Indian Foreign Ministry released a statement supporting the freedom of navigation and over flight and urged the concerned nations to resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force. “India supports freedom of navigation and over flight, and unimpeded commerce, based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UNCLOS”, said the statement.
“India believes that States should resolve disputes through peaceful means without threat or use of force and exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that could complicate or escalate disputes affecting peace and stability”, added the statement.
India also pointed that Sea lanes of communication passing through the South China Sea are critical for peace, stability, prosperity and development. “As a State Party to the UNCLOS, India urges all parties to show utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which establishes the international legal order of the seas and oceans”, the statement further said.
The ruling relates to a complaint issued in 2013 by the Philippines, which, along with China, claims both the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. On 22 January 2013, the former government of Philippines unilaterally initiated arbitration on the relevant disputes in the South China Sea between China and the Philippines. On 19 February 2013, the Chinese government solemnly declared that it neither accepts nor participates in that arbitration and has since repeatedly reiterated that position.