Mon, November 29, 2021


'New ways needed to tackle challenges'

Legal experts discuss fight against terrorism and complicated issues like Asean haze, South China Sea

INTERNATIONAL law experts have urged the world community to find new ways to tackle terrorism, haze, conflict in the South China Sea and other issues resulting from the fast-changing political and economic landscape.
Shaukat Aziz, former prime minister of Pakistan, told a panel discussion on the role of international law during the fifth biennial conference of the Asian Society of International Law (AsianSIL), held in Bangkok over the past two days, that the world community needed to address the root causes of terrorism, while boosting cross-country cooperation to deal with non-state terrorist actors.
“Non-state actors have become the driver of global terrorism,” he said, adding that most international laws are currently not applicable to these non-state actors since they do not use mainstream communication, financial payments and other methods covered by existing laws.
The latest Paris attacks were cited as a case in point. Since key suspects were non-state actors, international sanctions, for example, would not work.
Xue Hanqin, a judge at the International Court of Justice, said this had posed a new challenge for the global community in dealing with today’s terrorists.
Adapting to changes and plugging new loopholes such as those resulting from unconventional payment methods to finance terrorist acts that still elude traditional monitoring, are among the solutions going forward, she told the forum. Luis Miguel Martinez, vice president of the European Society of International Law, said there were now 15 UN conventions against terrorism, such as those covering national border control and the use of false passports.
However, these international cooperation treaties are still not sufficient and need to be further improved to cope with the latest terrorism developments, he stressed.
Besides terrorism, Surakiart Sathirathai, president of AsianSIL, cited the recent haze which had affected several Asean countries, namely, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, as well as Indonesia – where the slash-and-burn farming method was used – as another new regional challenge due to its serious cross-border environmental, health and economic consequences.
Asean countries may need to have a convention on how to tackle this regional issue since it happens regularly, he said, adding that affected parties could also consider filing lawsuits in the international court for compensation. On the South China Sea conflict, Surakiart said the law of the sea could be applied, as in the case of Thailand and Malaysia, which previously had overlapping claims in the Gulf of Thailand.
He urged China and other claimant states – including the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei – to be patient, as it could take a very long time to resolve the sovereignty issue over islands in the South China Sea. 
It may be easier, however, to negotiate a common position on economic aspects, as less patriotic emotions would be involved, he added.
In the case of Thailand and Malaysia, a Joint Development Area (JDA) agreement was concluded many years ago, allowing both countries to share the resources in overlapping territorial areas.
Another example is the Myanmar-Bangladesh JDA deal, Surakiart said, noting that the countries concerned in the South China Sea conflict should consider a similar approach, while leaving the geopolitical issue aside for future generations.
For example, there could be a multiple-country sharing or leasing of the areas and resources, he suggested. 

Published : November 28, 2015