36 speeches were presented and more than 200 discussions were conducted during the two working days. On the second working day, the delegates assessed the situation in the sea over the past time and proposed various solutions to building trust, managing, and step-by-step addressing disputes to maintain peace and stability in the sea.

Delegates in a joint photo. Source: hanoimoi.com.vn

Many scholars shared their views that the activity of reinforcing force-building and militarization in the sea poses a high risk of instability to the region. Some legal experts also stressed the provisions of international law on settlement of disputes by peaceful means and the prohibition of the threat to use or use of force.

Discussing measures to build trust, and maintain peace and stability in the South China Sea, scholars said all concerned parties should reconsider their claims and activities, which are not in accordance with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

They acknowledged the recent great efforts of regional countries in negotiating the Code of Conduct of parties in the South China Sea (COC) over the past time, and warned that negotiations on COC will take much time.

Delegates from countries outside the region wished that ASEAN and China would improve transparency in negotiations and respect legitimate interests of all nations.

Apart from COC, scholars asked ASEAN member countries could propose ideas to build other codes of conduct in the South China Sea (East Sea), including the one on unexpected encounters in the air, and standards on treating plastic wastes at sea.

Translated by Lam Anh