ADMM-Plus Convenes for the 3rd Time

The dispute over the South China Sea has to be settled peacefully and in accordance with international law.This is the sense of almost all members of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM)-Plus. Convening in Malaysia on 4 November, the exact date when the Declaration of Conduct of Parties on the South China Sea (DOC) was signed between ASEAN and China in 2002, the defense ministers were almost unanimous in calling for the conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea. Secretary of National Defense Voltaire T. Gazmin himself 
once more called upon his colleagues to support and work towards the conclusion of a Code of Conduct as this is the most effective way for ensuring that freedom of navigation and overflight over the South China Sea is respected and preserved. 

The expression by almost all defense ministers of the imperative of dealing with the issue through international law vindicates the Philippines' move to pursue the legal track of arbitration, which is one of the mechanisms provided by international law, specifically UNCLOS, in regard to maritime disputes. And with the almost all the defense ministers of ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners speaking about the South China Sea and the need for freedom of navigation and overflight being preserved, it became clear that the Philippines, contrary to what some other parties would have wanted to portray, is not the one causing tension in the area.

The ADMM-Plus, which meets every two years, provides a platform for the 10 defense ministers of ASEAN and its eight dialogue partners to include Australia, China, India, Japan,New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the US to exchange views on regional and global security issues. In between the ministerial meeting, the ADMM's working groups promote practical cooperation among the 18 defense forces to include the conduct of exercises and activities to enhance capacities to address security concerns.The Philippines is slated to host the next meeting of the ADMM-Plus when it assumes chairmanship of ASEAN in 2017.