By CNN Philippines Staff, August 3, 2023; CNN Philippines

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted a resolution spearheaded by the Philippines, which recognizes the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s crucial role in the peaceful settlement of international disputes.

“PH spearheaded this campaign, together with core group members Australia, Egypt, Guatemala, Hungary, and Thailand,” said PCA Administrative Council’s acting president and Philippine Ambassador to the Netherlands Eduardo Malaya.

Dated July 21, the resolution invited UNGA members to commemorate the international tribunal on its 125th anniversary. Based in the Netherlands, the PCA was established at the Hague Peace Conference in 1899.

The measure encouraged member states to support and make use of the PCA’s services “consistent with international law, in arbitration, conciliation, mediation, commissions of inquiry and other peaceful means of dispute resolution.”

Assembly resolutions serve as decisions or recommendations for member states pertaining to the “general principles of cooperation for maintaining international peace and security,” and the “peaceful settlement of any situation that might impair friendly relations among countries.”

Malaya said the policy-making organ adopted the resolution by consensus, without a vote, and that 122 Assembly members co-sponsored it. Most resolutions are approved this way, according to the UN.

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Sec. Enrique Manalo welcomed the move and said “the consensus adoption of the resolution shows that countries do see the merit of upholding the rule of international law and credible dispute settlement mechanisms like the PCA – to deal with their differences through diplomacy, peacefully, and not by force or intimidation.”

The Philippines and the PCA

In January 2013, Manila filed before the PCA a case against Beijing under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea over its sweeping claims in the South China Sea, including 80% of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone.

In July 2016, an arbitral tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines.

However, China rejected the landmark decision, describing it as “illegal and invalid,” and has continued its incursions and harassment of Filipino vessels in the West Philippine Sea.

As a result, the Senate on Monday adopted a resolution condemning China’s rejection of the arbitral ruling, its aggressive actions over the contested waters, and urged the DFA to raise the issue to the UNGA.