I wholly concur with the penetrating analysis and categorical contention of retired Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio that the “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international treaty adopted in 1982, will collapse if China succeeds in taking over the rest of the South China Sea.”
In fact I will even argue that the said grim scenario will signal not only the collapse of the UNCLOS, but also the withering, if not death of the various international principles and conventions where that treaty is but a small part or element.
The end of World War II resulted to the destruction of various empires, weakening the former European power players, gave rise to the new empires and the emergence of various nation-states animated by their desires to be fully independent fuelled by their nationalistic yearnings.
Besides all of these simultaneous convergence of circumstances, the end of the last war gave rise to the new global order.
The first order of the day of the new masters is to set up the United Nations (UN) whose primordial purpose they say is to act as a global agency that will prevent the occurrence of another world war or large scale conflict of universal magnitude.
Corollary to this, member states adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and using this as a template, so to speak it also hasten the creation, adoption and practice of the present day international rules-based order.
In the case of the West Philippine Sea (WPS), specifically the Juan Felipe reef, the nefarious and hideous act of China in invading and swarming the territory of the Philippines, ironically within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) using numerous maritime militia is not only a violation of the right of the Philippines as a member state of the UNCLOS, but also a complete disregard of international law and that treaty wherein they are a signatory.
Incontestably what China is doing is a direct challenge, a taunt to the ruling super power, a total disrespect to the rules-based convention and a mockery of the so-called existing global order. Undeniably China is not only a bully but acting as if it is the new hegemon, not only on this particular region but also in the international stage at large.
Hence, the problem of Manila is not only a local issue or merely the problem of the Philippines.
China’s aggression and rampant militaristic expansion is the problem of the whole world.
To reiterate, the conquest of China either by force, bullying and intimidation of the entire South China Sea to the prejudice of the countries and various claimants therein will lead to the collapse and eventual demise, not only of UNCLOS but also of the entire global system of rules.
Right is might which is the supposed governing philosophy of international law, relations among nations and equitable geopolitical principles will be render nugatory and worthless, because it will sprang the sinister thought of might is right.
According to Justice Carpio, “China is enforcing its claim outside the compulsory dispute settlement mechanism of UNCLOS, by authorizing its Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels fishing in the high seas or in their own exclusive economic zones, hundreds of nautical miles from China’s own exclusive economic zone…”
Further, China’s continuing rejection of the July 2016 “ruling of an UNCLOS-backed tribunal that invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea” is not only harmful, but utterly dangerous to the life of the peoples of Southeast Asia but to the universal scheme of things.
Indeed, China is a pariah and a totalitarian state.
Hence, the solution besides relentlessly fighting China using international law and marshalling broad global moral support is for the countries of the world to unite as one community and/or family of nations to strongly push back China.
We have no choice.