A coast guard ship of the Vietnam Marine Police patrol the East Sea. (Source: www.ocean-fortune.com)

Quang Ninh (VNA) – The urgent need for an international cooperation mechanism on marine security and safety in East Asia was highlighted at an international workshop in Quang Ninh province that concluded on June 10.

The two-day event on sea security and development was co-hosted by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam.

In the fourth working session on June 10, participants looked at the regional security structure and several sea cooperation mechanisms around the world with a view to seeking a suitable model for the region.

Experts also recommended countries in the region boosting dialogues on improving capability, building an information-sharing system and a joint action programme.

They suggested a collective security mechanism for Asia following the European model.

Several legal experts from the European Union argued that making use of international courts is an effective way of resolving marine disputes.

Professor Erik Franck , a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), said being an international organisation, ASEAN can follow the model of the European Union to become an entity in international relationships and a member of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ( UNCLOS ) that will allow the bloc to use laws to promote cooperation and solve disputes.

Judge Pangalangan from the International Criminal Court at The Hague said the rate of using the International Court of Justice and the International Court of Arbitration to resolve disputes in Asia is lower than other parts of the world.

Besides cultural and historical barriers, the real problem is that Asian countries show a lack of trust and commitment to the principles of international law from agencies, ministries and policy-makers, who thought legal proceedings are likely to be politicised or rigged, said Pangalangan.

Therefore, he said more information exchange and dialogue are necessary to raise awareness of the importance and efficiency of international courts in solving international disputes.

Having a pool of well-trained lawyers is an area countries need to pay attention to, if they are to achieve good results at international courts, he said.

The fifth and final session was dedicated to ways to apply international laws and the settlement of issues through the Court of Arbitration set up under the UNCLOS’s Appendix VII. Many speakers underlined the importance of the UNCLOS in general and the convention’s dispute settlement mechanism in particular.

Throughout the two-day discussions, participants shared the view that political will, trust building measures and respect for international rules and legal standards as well as mutual respect are key to overcome the difference of opinions on sovereignty claims and the gap in response to protect the marine and common living spaces of countries. - VNA