The following is an excerpt from Press Statement by the Chairman of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat inVientiane on 27 February 2016. In this excerpt, the Ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern, including South China Sea. Notably, as Bill Hayton pointed out, the Ministers called for “full respect” for legal processes as one of factors in maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region.
Exchange of views on regional and international issues
9. The Ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest and concern. These include emerging non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, cyber security, natural disasters, climate change, irregular migration, trafficking in persons, maritime security and cooperation, and developments in various regions, including the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, among others.
10.Recalling the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Terrorist Attack in Jakarta, we reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to working with the international community to further intensify its cooperation to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whom so ever it is committed.
11.Further recalling the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Nuclear Test by the Democratic People’s Republic Korea (DPRK) and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the DPRK’s Rocket Launch, ASEAN reiterated its full support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and urged the DPRK to comply with all the relevant UNSC Resolutions and called on all parties concerned to exert common efforts to maintain peace and security in the said region and create an environment conducive to early resumption of the Six-Party Talks to help pave the way for maintaining and strengthening peace, security and stability in the Korean Peninsula.
12.On the South China Sea, the Ministers remained seriously concerned over recent and ongoing developments and took note of the concerns expressed by some Ministers on the land reclamations and escalation of activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region.
13.The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, security, stability, and freedom of navigation in and over – flight above the South China Sea.
14.The Ministers further reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law.
15.The Ministers reaffirmed their shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Ministers emphasized the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of activities.
16. The Ministers underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety, and while noting the momentum and new phase of consultation, urged the expeditious establishment of the code of conduct (COC). They highlighted the need to intensify efforts to achieve further progress in the implementation of the DOC and substantive development of the COC.
Read the full Press Statement at