. . . is the topic of my latest Trade Tripper column in this Friday-Saturday issue of BusinessWorld. Excerpts:

"Comment was also made that to include the Kalayaan Islands within the baselines would violate the UNCLOS. But that’s according to whom? And again, why are our officials lawyering for the other countries? Our territory is that declared by our Constitution and not by various interpretative readings of the UNCLOS. We can even choose to pull out of UNCLOS just to protect our territory. That’s doable. The US, for example, refrains from ratifying the UNCLOS for sovereignty and economic reasons. Besides, why admit that the inclusion of Kalayaan violates the UNCLOS? That’s for the other countries to prove. Let them sue us before international tribunals, which perhaps could be the best thing that could happen to us in regard to our claim.

Incidentally, whenever our officials speak of referring this matter to the UN, the ICJ, or any international tribunal, they reveal a lack of familiarity with how international law works. The matter will not be taken up by the UN because China is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto powers. We cannot bring the other country claimants to the ICJ because none of them has an existing optional jurisdiction clause filed with the Court. We can’t sue them before the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea or to arbitration because none of them will likely consent to being brought before such proceedings. The best way to get this resolved quickly is to actually invite these countries to sue us, which they won’t because that’s how international law and politics is played."