International law will continue to guide Singapore: MFA
Wed, May 28, 2008
The Straits Times

>INTERNATIONAL law will continue to guide Singapore's approach to issues thrown up by the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) latest judgment, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

These include its interests in relation to maritime space and boundary delimitation following yesterday's award of Pedra Branca to Singapore and Middle Rocks to Malaysia by the ICJ. It was responding to media queries yesterday following the judgment on the sovereignty dispute between the two countries.

Asked what the judgment meant for issues related to territorial waters and the extent of the maritime zone around Singapore, the MFA spokesman said: "The Court was not asked to determine such questions of maritime space or boundary delimitation. Singapore's rights and interests on these matters will be pursued in accordance with international law."

Singapore has a territorial sea limit that extends up to a maximum of 12 nautical miles and an Exclusive Economic Zone, it noted. This is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of Dec 10, 1982, which Singapore is a State Party to. The precise coordinates of Singapore's territorial sea and Exclusive Economic
Zone will be announced at an appropriate time, said MFA.

"Should the limits of its territorial sea or Exclusive Economic Zone overlap with claims of neighbouring countries, Singapore will negotiate with those countries with a view to arriving at agreed delimitations in accordance with
international law."

"Singapore reserves its position on international agreements it is not a party to," it added.

On the ICJ judgment itself, MFA said it was "pleased" with it as the ICJ had awarded Singapore sovereignty over Pedra Branca which was "the key feature in dispute".

It noted, however, that the judgment was not totally in Singapore's favour, as the Court had awarded Middle Rocks to Malaysia. The Court also decided that South Ledge belongs to the country in whose territorial waters it is located.

"We had argued that these features are part of Pedra Branca but as the Court has found otherwise, Singapore accepts the Court's decision."

Noting that the judgment brings to a closure a longstanding territorial dispute between Malaysia and Singapore, MFA said: "We will now put this issue behind us and move on to strengthen our bilateral and regional cooperation."

Singapore will discuss with Malaysia the steps and procedures to implement the decision of the Court, it added. Officials from both sides have already been in discussion prior to the judgment of the Court.

"Singapore's rights and interests on these matters (maritime space and boundary
delimitation) will be pursued in accordance with international law."

This article first appeared in The Straits Times on May 24, 2008.


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