Statement by Global Affairs Canada on South China Sea ruling


July 11, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Global Affairs Canada today issued the following statement:

“On the fifth anniversary of the decision by the tribunal constituted under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the matter of the South China Sea Arbitration, Canada reiterates the need for all involved parties to comply with it. This decision is a significant milestone and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes in the South China Sea.

“It is imperative that all parties in the region demonstrate restraint and avoid taking action unilaterally, as this would exacerbate tensions and threaten regional stability.

“Canada is particularly concerned by China’s escalatory and destabilizing actions in the East and South China Seas, including, recently, off the Philippine coast, and by the militarization of disputed features and the use of naval, coast guard and maritime militia vessels to intimidate and threaten the ships of other states.

“We call on all states, including China, to live up to previous commitments made in the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of the Parties in the South China Sea.

“Canada is pleased to see that ASEAN members and China have resumed negotiations to develop a code of conduct for the South China Sea. We encourage transparency in these negotiations and reiterate that the agreement should not derogate from the rights that parties enjoy under international law or prejudice the rights of third parties.

“Canada supports lawful commerce, navigation and overflight rights, as well as the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of coastal states in the South China Sea, exercised in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS. These principles are essential to a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.

“Canada is committed to defending and revitalizing an effective rules-based international order, including for the oceans and seas, and to the peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.”

Quick facts

  • On January 22, 2013, the Philippines instituted arbitral proceedings against China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The proceedings, called the South China Sea Arbitration, concerned, among others, China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, the status of certain maritime features there and the lawfulness of certain actions by China there that the Philippines alleged to be in violation of the convention.
  • On July 12, 2016, a United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea tribunal rendered a decision on the arbitration that is binding on the parties to the ruling.

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