The Philippines took the General Assembly podium today to accuse another Member State of embarking on expansionist territorial claims that violate its rights, and called on the United Nations to take speedy action to protect UN peacekeeping forces after Filipino troops were seized in the Golan Heights.
“We have invited a State Party to settle our maritime disputes peacefully through UNCLOS (UN Convention on the Law of the Sea) including its provisions on dispute settlement, specifically arbitration,” Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario told the Assembly’s 69th annual high-level meeting, without mentioning China by name.
“However, it has refused to join us and has continued to unilaterally embark on an expansionist claim that violates the legitimate rights of the Philippines and other littoral neighbours under UNCLOS such as their Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves.
“Instead of peacefully resolving the maritime disputes within the framework of UNCLOS, said State embarked on a series of dangerous, reckless and forceful activities in an attempt to impose unilateral change in the maritime status quo of the South China Sea.”
Turning to the Golan, where 72 Filipino peacekeepers in the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) monitoring the disengagement accord between Syria and Israel were surrounded last month by armed elements in the Syrian civil war until they moved to safety, Mr. Rosario called for top-level action to ensure the security of such missions.
“We are deeply concerned with the continuing and emerging dangers faced by all UN peacekeepers and urge the United Nations and all fellow Member States to ensure that these dangers are addressed comprehensively.” He said.
“We believe that outstanding operational and tactical issues relating to United Nations peacekeeping must be resolved at the highest levels as soon as possible. The Philippines reiterates its solid commitment to uphold multilateral peacekeeping, collective security and the rule of law.”
On development, he said that the greatest challenge to the Philippines in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) was the series of disasters that had befallen the country. Super typhoon Haiyan, the strongest typhoon to have hit landfall in recorded history, made a significant impact on the modest progress we have achieved towards the Goals.
Two months ago, a Comprehensive Rehabilitation and Recovery Plan for the Haiyan-affected areas had been completed, which would require a considerable amount of resources and effort, but the Philippines and its international partners are determined to see this massive rebuilding and rehabilitation plan to full completion.