Leaders of ten ASEAN member countries pledge to work actively toward the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Vietnam Sea, according to their Vision Statement on Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN.
The joint document was adopted at the 36th ASEAN Summit video conference chaired by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Friday.
It was the first time the annual regional summit had been held online in the 53-year history of ASEAN, with leaders tuning in from their respective countries in the wake of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that is hitting the region and the world.
The ASEAN leaders further reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Vietnam Sea, the official VGP News reported.
They also emphasized the importance of upholding international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in the East Vietnam Sea.
They pledged to work actively towards the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Vietnam Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the early conclusion of an effective and substantive Code of Conduct in the East Vietnam Sea (COC), consistent with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS.
The regional leaders further stressed on the importance of non-militarization and self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability, and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation.
The leaders underlined the need to pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS, while enhancing mutual trust and confidence, read the Vision Statement.
Regarding economic recovery, they agreed to undertake necessary measures for gradual revitalization of ASEAN’s economic activities to implement facilitative measures and to expedite recovery of the ASEAN economies.
They vowed to address disruptions in trade links, promote and support regional and global supply chain connectivity and ensure unimpeded flow of essential goods including medicine, medical supplies and devices and other critical goods and services in supply chains through increased transparency and refraining from imposing unnecessary non-tariff measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ASEAN, short for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, is a political and economic organization whose members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Vietnam is the ASEAN Chair for 2020.