Building the Framework: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno on Peace and Security in the Pacific

 (BGF) – Kosaku Dairokuno, Professor of Comparative Politics from Meiji University, Tokyo shared his thoughts about Building a Framework for Peace and Security in the Pacific during the BGF’s online conference of July 2, 2014. He expected the U.S to be an active member in the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and a “Framework for Peace and Security” needs to be built in various regional get-togethers such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, ASEAN plus Three, etc.

In dealing with the conflicts in the South China Sea, he also expressed the need to get China to understand that “it will be in its own interest to pursue the common interest among the neighboring nations” and to get China involved in the talk of peace and security in the Pacific.

Building the Framework: Professor Kosaku Dairokuno on Peace and Security in the Pacific

July 2, 2014 | By Kosaku Dairokuno, Professor of Comparative Politics, Meiji University, Tokyo

Under the UNCLOS framework, when two or more countries have disagreements regarding their legitimate territories, EEZ, or the mid-line between them, countries concerned ought to resolve the differences through negotiations. If they cannot settle the disagreements, either one of the parties can take this to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea or to the International Court of Justice for judgment only if the other parties agree to do so.

But, such agreement is not usually so easy; the country that desires the third party judgment will ask for arbitration instead, because the arbitration process does not require a prior agreement between the parties to bring the disagreements to the Court. In this case, however, any decision by the court is not necessarily respected by the party which has not agreed to bring the issue to the court.

This is likely the case for the Philippines asking to the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea for arbitration between China over the disputed territory in the South China Sea. China seems not to be interested in responding to this arbitration process, and is not likely to provide its case to the Tribunal. In this case, the Tribunal may come to a conclusion probably in favor of Philippines. But, politically speaking, this decision actually cannot resolve the conflict between the two nations. The Tribunal’s decisions are not enough, although not morally ineffective, when the issue is concerned with the claim over territories.

Therefore, we have to find some kind of multinational framework for conflict resolution that is much stronger than the Code of Conduct currently implemented among the nations surrounding the disputed areas in the South China Sea. I would like to see the US ratify the Convention on the Law of the Sea, and become an active member of the treaty, which has long been overdue. And, it may be good idea to have a “framework for peace and security” in various regional get-togethers such as the East Asia Summit, APEC, ASEAN plus Three, etc.

We need to get China to understand that it will be in its own interest to pursue the common interest among the neighboring nations, since their economies have become closely inter-dependent with each other. Therefore, it is not a good idea to take too much assertive action that makes other nations baffled about the real intention of the country. In the short term, we have to set up as many opportunities as possible to talk about peace and security in the Pacific, with China. At the same time, we have to build mutual trust by encouraging the exchange of students, scholars, and business men; as well as open discussion about the common future, although it surely will take a long time. The closer relationships we build between the peoples, the more difficult it will be for any country to be engaged in openly assertive actions. In fact, there are many other economic, environmental, and political issues and problems we have to tackle together in order to keep forwarding prosperity in this region.