Secretary Enrique A. Manalo (middle of U-shaped table) with the participants of the Dialogue on Maritime Governance in the South China Sea.

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) Philippines co-hosted the Dialogue on Maritime Governance in the South China Sea on 16-17 August 2023 at the Makati Diamond Residences, Makati City.

The Track II dialogue brought together renowned legal scholars, security experts, and practitioners from across the Indo-Pacific region and beyond to discuss fresh ideas and the ways forward in managing, if not perhaps resolving, the South China Sea disputes.

The event featured enriching conversations on how to transform the potential for conflict in the South China Sea into areas for joint collaboration and stewardship, without prejudice to each country’s sovereignty and with due regard to their national interests.

In his keynote speech, Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo, underscored the importance of dialogues such as these in providing pathways to navigate the current strategic landscape characterized by increased strategic risks and uncertainty. The use of force and the threat of use of force, or acts of intimidation, subvert the regime of collaboration and shared stewardship which is necessary to make sure that the South China Sea remains a sea of peace, stability and prosperity.

Speakers affirmed the importance of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as the foremost authority on ocean governance. Some experts also noted that the 2016 Arbitral Award offers a baseline for dispute settlement efforts and convergence, as embodied in the exchange of notes verbale in 2020. The Award also influenced negotiations and discussions, including those on the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, fisheries cooperation, and oil and gas arrangements.

The dialogue concluded with an emphasis on upholding the rules-based international order, exploring mini-lateral and regional maritime governance arrangements, and maintaining open channels of communication among South China Sea claimants and non-claimant states to mitigate tensions and manage the cycle of escalation.

Secretary for Foreign Affairs H.E. Enrique A. Manalo delivers the keynote remarks.
(L-R): Mr. Roderich Kiesewetter, Member of the German Parliament and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU); Ms. Daniela Braun, Country Director, KAS Philippines; His Excellency Enrique A. Manalo, Secretary for Foreign Affairs; and Ambassador Ma. Teresita C. Daza, FSI Director-General.
(L-R): Mr. Orlando “Orly” Mercado, Former Senator and Secretary of Defense; Mr.  Roderich Kiesewetter, Member of the German Parliament; and Prof. Sienho Yee, Professor of International Law, China Foreign Affairs University, speaking on “The Role of Legislators in the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes and Promoting Rules-Based Governance in the South China Sea.”