The South China Sea is a common resource where ASEAN Member States derive multiple uses. Nevertheless, the competing claims and conflicting interests of ASEAN nations and other claimants, such as China, raise the issue of transboundary harm within this sea and the sustainability of its resources. This paper argues that, despite the absence of a region-based transboundary environmental impact assessment [EIA] regime covering the South China Sea, ASEAN Member States are bound by their commitments under the Law of the Sea Convention and other binding agreements, as complemented by customary international law, which provide guidance in applying a transboundary EIA over a shared resource. The South China Sea Arbitration particularly sets the minimum requisites of not only preparing an EIA, but also communicating the EIA results to relevant international organizations. Here, ASEAN can play a vital role as a platform through which where EIA communication can be channelled.
Assistant Professorial Lecturer 2, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. The author is also an Attorney at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines. He is grateful to Professor Jacqueline Peel of Melbourne Law School for her valuable inputs, and for encouraging the author to submit this research paper for publication.
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56. United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, opened for signature 10 December 1982, 1833 UNTS 397 (entered into force 16 November 1994) [UNCLOS].
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58. Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context, opened for signature 25 February 1991, 1989 UNTS 309 (entered into force 10 September 1997) [Espoo Convention].
59. Protocol on Strategic Environmental Assessment, opened for signature 21 May 2003, 2685 UNTS 140 (entered into force 11 July 2010) [Kiev Protocol].
60. ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, opened for signature 10 June 2002 (entered into force 25 November 2003) [Haze Agreement] arts. 5–15.
61. Ibid., art. 1 (6), (7).
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64. Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, opened for signature 9 July 1985, 15 EPL 2 (not yet in force).
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77. Ibid., Part XII, s. 5.
78. Ibid., art. 208.
79. Ibid., art. 211.
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81. Ibid., art. 2.
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84. Fish Stocks Agreement, supra note 80, arts. 5 (d), 6 (3) (d).
85. Ibid., part III.
86. United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, supra note 74.
87. Convention on Biological Diversity, opened for signature 5 June 1992, 1760 UNTS 79 (entered into force 29 December 1993) [CBD].
88. Ibid., art. 14 (1)(c) (emphasis added).
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91. Protocol of 1978 Relating to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, opened for signature 2 November 1973, 1340 UNTS 62 (entered into force 2 October 1983) [MARPOL 73/78].
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100. Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, GA Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, UN Doc. A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I) (12 August 1992).
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102. See e.g. Request for an Examination of the Situation in Accordance with Paragraph 63 of the Court's Judgment of 20 December 1974 in the Nuclear Tests (New Zealand v. France) Case,  I.C.J Rep. 288; Mox Plant Case (Ireland v. United Kingdom) (Provisional Measures), ITLOS Case No. 10; Case Concerning Land Reclamation by Singapore in and Around the Straits of Johor (Malaysia v. Singapore) (Provisional Measures), Case No. 12; Case Concerning the Gabčikovo-Nagymaros Project (Hungry v. Slovakia) (Judgment),  I.C.J. Rep. 7.
103. Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay (Argentina v. Uruguay) (Judgment),  I.C.J. Rep. 14.
104. Ibid., at –.
105. Ibid., at .
107. Ibid., at .
108. Certain Activities Carried Out by Nicaragua in the Border of the Area (Costa Rica v. Nicaragua) and Construction of a Road in Costa Rica along the San Juan River (Nicaragua v Costa Rica) (Judgment),  I.C.J. Rep. 665 [Construction of a Road].
109. Ibid., at –, .
110. Ibid., at .
111. Ibid., at .
112. Ibid., at .
113. Ibid., at .
114. Ibid., at .
115. Ibid., at .
116. Ibid., at .
117. Ibid., at .
118. South China Sea Arbitration, supra note 2 at .
119. Ibid., at .
121. Ibid., at . China describes the natural simulation approach as one which “simulates the natural process of sea storms blowing away and moving biological scraps which gradually evolve into oasis on the sea”.
122. Ibid., at .
123. Ibid., at , .
124. Ibid., at . (citations omitted, emphasis added).
125. Birnie et al., supra note 51 at 170; cf. KNOX, John H., ‘The Myth and Reality of Transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment’ (2002) 96(2) American Journal of International Law 291 at 291–2.
126. See Statute of the International Court of Justice, art. 38 (1)(b); LEPARD, Brian D., Customary International Law a New Theory with Practical Applications (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010) at 3.
127. KLEIN, David F., “A Theory for the Application of the Customary International Law of Human Rights by Domestic Courts” (1988) 13 Yale Journal of International Law 332 at 342.
128. CBD, supra note 87, art. 14(1).
129. Robin RAMCHARAN, “ASEAN and Non-Interference: A Principle Maintained” (2000) Contemporary Southeast Asia 60 at 64–6.
130. Pulp Mills on the River Uruguay  I.C.J. Rep. 72 at .
131. Ibid., at .
132. LOHANI, Bindu N., EVANS, J. Warren, EVERITT, Robert R., LUDWIG, Harvey, CARPENTER, Richard A., and TU, Shih-Liang, Environmental Impact Assessment for Developing Countries in Asia Volume 1-Overview (Mandaluyong: Asian Development Bank, 1997) at 2–5.
133. BRIFFETT, Clive, “Environmental Impact Assessment in Southeast Asia: Fact and Fiction?” (1999) 49(3) GeoJournal 333 at 334–5.
134. See TANAKA, Yoshifumi, “Reflections on Historic Rights in the South China Sea Arbitration (Merits)” (2017) 32(3) International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 458.
135. Janis Mackey FRAYER, “South China Sea Ruling: What's Next for Beijing After Tribunal's Rebuke?” NBC News (12 July 2016), online: NBC News <https://www.nbcnews.com/news/china/south-china-sea-ruling-what-s-next-beijing-after-tribunal-n607851>; Christopher ROBERTS, “The South China Sea: Beijing's Challenge to ASEAN and UNCLOS and the Necessity of a New Multi-Tiered Approach”, Working Paper No. 307, Nanyang Technological University, 29 August 2017.
136. South China Sea Arbitration, supra note 2 at .
138. Ibid., at .
139. Ibid., at .
140. Ibid., at .
141. Ibid., at .
142. Ibid., at .
143. Ibid., at .
145. Ibid., at .
146. Ibid., at [978–83].
147. See Construction of a Road, supra note 108 at , [155–6].
148. South China Sea Arbitration, supra note 2 at .
149. Ibid., at  (emphasis added).
150. Ibid., at .
151. GOODWIN, Edward J., International Environmental Law and the Conservation of Coral Reefs (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011) at 66.
152. See also United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) 1833 U.N.T.S. 397, art. 208(5).
153. Corfu Channel (United Kingdom v. Albania) (Merits),  I.C.J. Rep 4 at 22.
154. International Law Commission, Yearbook of the International Law Commission 2001, Vol. II, Part Two (New York: United Nations Publications, 2007) at 159–60.
155. South China Sea Arbitration, supra note 2 at [669–70], .
156. Ibid., at .
157. Ibid., at .
159. Ibid., at .
160. See generally POULANTZAS, Nicholas M., “European Union and the Exclusive Economic Zone of Mediterranean States: Does a Duty to Cooperate Exist?” (2013) 66 RHDI 311 at 315–16; LINEBAUGH, Christopher, “Joint Development in a Semi-Enclosed Sea: China's Duty to Cooperate in Developing the Natural Resources of the South China Sea” (2013) 52 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 542 at 567.
161. See e.g. CLARK, Elise Anne, “Strengthening Regional Fisheries Management-An Analysis of the Duty to Cooperate” (2011) 9 New Zealand Journal of Public and International Law 223 at 230–2.
162. YOUNG, Margaret A. and SULLIVAN, Sebastian Rioseco, “Evolution through the Duty to Cooperate: Implications of the Whaling Case at the International Court of Justice” (2015) 16 Melbourne Journal of International Law 311 at 334–7.
163. North Sea Continental Shelf (Federal Republic of Germany v. Denmark) (Merits)  I.C.J. Rep 3 at 47.
164. International Law Commission, supra note 154 at 155 (art. 4 of the Draft Articles on Prevention of Transboundary Harm from Hazardous Activities).
165. Fourth ASEAN State of the Environment Report 2009, online: ASEAN <http://www.asean.org/wp-content/uploads/images/2012/publications/Fourth%20ASEAN%20State%20of%20the%20Environment%20Report%202009.pdf> at 49.
167. J.C. COTINGA and Regine CABATO, “ASEAN to Push for Legally Binding South China Sea Code of Conduct” CNN Philippines (5 August 2017), online: CNN Philippines <http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/08/05/asean-push-legally-binding-south-china-sea-code-of-conduct.html>.
168. Raul DANCEL, “ASEAN, China Adopt Framework of Code of Conduct for South China Sea” The Straits Times (6 August 2017), online: The Straits Times <http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/chinas-foreign-minister-says-maritime-code-negotiations-with-asean-to-start-this-year>.
169. Manuel MOGATO and Christian SHEPERD, “Australia, Japan, US call for South China Sea Code to be Legally Binding” Reuters (7 August 2017), online: Reuters <https://www.reuters.com/article/us-asean-philippines-southchinasea/australia-japan-u-s-call-for-south-china-sea-code-to-be-legally-binding-idUSKBN1AN0TU>.
170. See VISONE, Tommaso, “The ‘ASEAN Way’: A Decolonial Path beyond ‘Asian Values’?” (2017) 9(1) Perspectives on Federalism 1.
171. HIRSCH, Philip, ed., Routledge Handbook of the Environment in Southeast Asia (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017) at 154.
172. Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea (2017–2027) (13 November 2017), online: ASEAN <https://asean.org/storage/2017/11/Declaration-for-a-Decade-of-Coastal-and-Marine-Environmental-Protection-in-the-South-China-Sea-2017-2027.pdf> at paras. 3, 6, 8, 12.
173. Ibid., at para. 14 (emphasis added).
174. Ibid., at para. 10.
175. Agreement on the Cooperation for Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, 5 April 1995, 2069 UNTS 3 (entered into force 5 April 1995) [Mekong Agreement].
176. WELLS-DANG, Andrew, “Prospects for Regional Cooperation on Environmental Impact Assessment in Mainland Southeast Asia” (2015) 37 Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International and Strategic Affairs 406 at 424–8.
177. Mekong Agreement, supra note 175 at arts. 11–27.
178. Charter of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 20 November 2007, 2624 UNTS 223 (entered into force 15 December 2008).
179. ASEAN Vision 2020, online: ASEAN <http://asean.org/?static_post=asean-vision-2020> at para. 6; see also “ASEAN to Ensure Complementarity of Community Building Efforts with SDGs” ASEAN Secretariat News (31 March 2017), online ASEAN Secretariat News <http://asean.org/asean-to-ensure-complementarity-of-community-building-efforts-with-sdgs/>.
180. Birnie et al., supra note 51 at 165.
* Assistant Professorial Lecturer 2, De La Salle University, Manila, Philippines. The author is also an Attorney at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Philippines. He is grateful to Professor Jacqueline Peel of Melbourne Law School for her valuable inputs, and for encouraging the author to submit this research paper for publication.
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