Sotto urges parliamentarians to promote regional cooperation

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has urged parliamentarians during the 141st Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in Belgrade, Serbia to promote regional cooperation by abiding to international law.

By adopting international benchmarks and standards, he said, parliaments pursue the path of negotiation, conciliation and arbitration instead of the rule of force.

"Strengthening international law is very timely as the world has become more globalized. Increased trade among our nations and the emergence of a global culture has made us more interconnected and interdependent," Sotto, who headed the Philippine delegation, said.

In a rules-based world, Sotto explained, legal and ethical arguments prevail over brute force.

"That is why countries outside the "Great Powers" and developing states like the Philippines have turned to international law as the great equalizer," Sotto said.

For majority of the nations, he said, their role in international law are expressed in their parliament's power to concur in the ratification of treaties. For instance, he said, the Philippines' Constitution stipulates that "no treaty or international agreement shall be valid and effective unless concurred in by at least two-thirds of all the members of the Senate."

He cited the boundary agreement between the Philippines and Indonesia as an example of a peaceful settlement of territorial boundaries between nations.

Sotto emphasized the parliament's role in translating international law into beneficial domestic laws. He said parliaments have the capacity to enact stronger protections for their citizens, especially those who are most vulnerable to abuse and violence.

"International treaties and conventions must be translated and adapted into our respective domestic laws so that these may positively and directly impact on the lives and welfare of the very people we represent," Sotto said.

He said the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has fully promoted the Rule of Law and the use of international law through regional parliamentary.

In 2017, Sotto said, the Philippines hosted the 38th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly where ASEAN lawmakers expressed full support for the solution of territorial and jurisdiction disputes through peaceful means and the exercise of self-restraint.

"As parliamentarians, international law is embedded in our work. Our public stands to benefit from our increased understanding of international law and better laws we will legislate," Sotto said.

Source: Senate of the Philippines