France commits to uphold UNCLOS, maritime order in Indo Pacific region, South China Sea

France has assured the Philippines that as a permanent member and president of the United Nations Security Council, it will perform its role to ensure that international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and sovereignty of its regional partners are upheld.

French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz (R. Mabasa/Manila Bulltein)

This was one of the key messages delivered by French Ambassador to the Philippines Michèle Boccoz during the reception for the Bastille Day celebration at her official residence on July 14, 2021.

Boccoz emphasized the importance of regional security to both countries as France fully supports a free and open Indo-Pacific founded on a “stable, law-based, and multipolar order”.

“As a Permanent Member and current President of the United Nations Security Council, France will do its part to ensure that international law, particularly the UNCLOS, and the sovereignty of its regional partners, are respected,” Boccoz said in her remarks.

On the occasion of the Arbitral Award on Monday, July 12, 2021, the Embassy of France in Manila released a statement conveying its commitment to maritime security, freedom of navigation, peaceful settlement of disputes, and respect for national maritime spaces, which it said are “fundamental elements that contribute to regional and global security”.

“In line with its Indo-Pacific Strategy, France reiterates its commitment to ensuring respect for international law, particularly the UNCLOS, as well as to the promotion of a rules-based, multipolar maritime order in the South China Sea and throughout the Indo-Pacific zone,” the French Embassy said in the two-paragraph statement.

At the Bastille Day event, Boccoz also highlighted the ongoing cooperation between the Philippines, France, and the European Union (EU) in addressing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring that no country is left behind.

France, together with its EU partners, has been supporting international mechanisms such as the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and the Covax facility to ensure that all countries have access to vaccines and other essential tools to combat the spread of the disease.

“We are pleased that the Philippines is benefitting from these mechanisms in order to speed up its national vaccination program,” the top French diplomat in the Philippines said.

Boccoz did not hide her excitement over the preparation for next year’s 75th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral relations between France and the Philippines even while both countries are already engaged in multi-faceted exchanges ranging from economic, climate change, human rights, culture, education and people to people ties.

Last July 2, Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez and French Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester co-chaired the 9th France-Philippines Joint Economic Committee meeting that resulted in economic discussions and commitments on a broad range of sectors such as transport, maritime cooperation, and agriculture.

“As we prepare for the 75th anniversary of French-Philippine diplomatic relations on June 26, 2022, I would like to invite you all to share any initiative or idea you may have which can contribute to the richness and the diversity of the ties between our two countries,” Boccoz told her guests led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, Secretary Lopez, Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Risa Hontiveros.