A Functionalist Approach in the South China Sea Disputes

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A Functionalist Approach in the South China Sea Disputes

  1. 1. A FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTS IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA: OPTION FOR CHINA AND ASEAN CLAIMANTS* Rommel C. BanlaoiINTRODUCTION proposes the adoption of a functionalist option to manage existing conflicts in One of the major irritants in the South China Sea.3China-ASEAN relations is the on-goingdispute in the South China Sea. Because A FUNCTIONALIST APPROACH TOof the intransigence of claimants, the THE MANAGEMENT OF CONFLICTSdispute already resulted in somemilitary clashes prompting some experts The functionalist approach is anand practitioners to describe the area as approach in international relations thata potential trigger of major conflicts in grapples with the process of regionalthe Asia Pacific region.1 cooperation and integration. The approach is based on the assumption How to manage the conflict in that the cooperation among nations inthe area has been baffling the minds of functional areas limits the possibility ofstrategic analysts and practitioners in the war and conflicts among cooperatingregion. But there are scholars who have nations. As the habit of cooperation inproposed some policy options to functional areas deepens and widens,manage the conflict.2 This paper prospects for integration becomes more and more promising, which may in turn *Paper prepared for presentation during lead to a more stable and peacefulthe Fourth China-ASEAN Research Institutes regional and international securityRoundtable at the University of Hong Kong from18-20 October 2001. This paper was also based on environment.the author’s paper entitled, “A FunctionalistApproach to the Management of Conflicts in the Cooperation in Low PoliticsSouth China Sea: Option for the ASEAN RegionalForum”, NDCP Occasional Paper, Vol. IV, No. 8 David Mitrany, in his book A(August 2001). Working Peace System, introduces and 1Ralph A. Cossa, "Security Implicationsof Conflict in the South China Sea: ExploringPotential Triggers of Conflict", A Pacific ForumCSIS Special Report ", PacNet Newsletter #16.April 17, 1998. 3Rommel C. Banlaoi, "The ASEAN 2 See for example, Lu Ning, Flashpoint Regional Forum and the Management of ConflictsSpratlys (Singapore: Dolphin Trace Press Pte Ltd, in the South China Sea," NDCP Occasional Paper,1995) and Mark Valencia, Mark Jon M. Van Dyke Vol. IV, No. 4 (March 2001), pp. 25-26.and Noel A. Ludwig, Sharing the Resources of theSouth China Sea, Paperback edition. Hawaii:University of Hawaii Press, 1997. 1
  2. 2. popularizes the functionalist approach.4 governments.6 These tasks can best beOtherwise known as functionalism, it addressed by highly trained specialistsoffers alternative approach to the or experts than by politicians.management of inter-state conflictsthrough cooperation in low-politics and Mitrany believes that "thenon-controversial areas.5 emergence of technical issues would lead first to the felt of perceived need for Mitrany believes that the collaborative action, devoid of aattainment of world peace can be made political, or conflictual, content" andpossible through cooperative therefore can be assigned to technicalundertakings in various functionalist experts "whose approaches wereareas such as education, health, essentially based on apoliticaleconomics, environment, science and considerations."7technology, culture and sports. Heargues that international conflicts can be Cooperation among politicalavoided and managed through elite, on the other hand, is hard tointernational cooperation not among prosper, according to Mitrany, as theypolitical elite but among technical people carry controversial agenda such aswith no political agenda nor political security and politics. Political elitemotives such as engineers, scientists, seldom agree with each other not onlyeconomists, academics, and medical because of their varying politicalspecialists. motives and agenda but also because they view security and politics from Mitrany adheres to the idea that different philosophical and ideologicalcooperation among technicians brings perspectives.more cooperation as they carry non-controversial agenda acceptable to all The Doctrine of Ramificationparties concerned. Experts and technicalpeople also have the capability to Crucial to the understanding ofdevelop common standards, by virtue of Mitrany’s functionalist approach is thetheir respective disciplines, to guide doctrine of ramification. The doctrinetheir cooperative undertakings. states that "Successful cooperation in one functional setting would enhance Cooperation Among Experts and incentive for collaboration in other Specialists fields". The doctrine also posits that the "perceived need in one functional task According to Mitrany, the would itself contribute to a change incomplexity of governmental systems in attitudes in favor of even greaterthe twentieth century has increased the cooperation over a widening spectrumtechnical/functionalist tasks facing of issues."8 6See James E. Dougherty and Robert L. 4DavidMitrany, A Working Peace System Pfaltzgraft Jr., Contending Theories of International(London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, Relations: A Comprehensive Survey, Fourth Edition1943). (New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers, Inc., 1997), Chapter 10. 5David Mitrany, "The FunctionalistApproach to World Organization", International 7 Ibid., p. 422.Affairs, XXIV (July 1948). 2
  3. 3. Guided by the doctrine of Cooperation Among Relevantramification, Mitrany emphasizes that Elitethe broadening and widening ofcooperation diminishes the prospect for Unlike Mitrany who pays primeand eventually eliminate war through an importance on the role of technicalincremental transformation from people and experts, Haas posits thatadversarial to cooperative pattern of European integration has proceeded as abehavior. The transformation of result of the work of relevant elite in thebehavioral pattern is incremental or government and private sectors whogradual because the ramification effect supported integration for pragmatictakes time. Apparently, the doctrine of reasons.11ramification works in tandem with thedoctrine of incrementalism which also For example, the removal ofstates that the broadening and widening barriers to coal and steel trade wouldof cooperation is a gradual process. increase markets and profits beneficial to stakeholders. Haas underscores that The Neo-Functionalist Approach elite "anticipating that they will gain from activity within a supranational Another variant of functional organizational framework are likely toapproach is the neo-functional approach seek out similarly minded elite acrossfirst introduced by Ernst Haas and later national frontiers."12 This leads to moreadopted and improved by Philippe cooperation.Schmitter, Leon Linberg, Joseph Nye,Robert Keohane and Lawrence As a result of the learningScheineman. 9 process of cooperation, Haas assumes that power-oriented governmental In his work, The Uniting of activities may eventually lead to aEurope, Haas identifies the political, welfare-oriented action – a functionalistsocial and economic forces that led to the oriented action. As players realize thecreation of the European Coal and Steel importance of cooperation throughCommunity (ECSC), the forerunner of increased commitment to a largerthe European Union (EU).10 Haas argues organizational unit, the learning processthat the decision to integrate Western of cooperation may lead to greaterEurope is not based on altruistic integration.13 Haas points out that theconsiderations but on the expectations of "Integrative lessons learned in onegain or loss held by dominant groups functional context will be applied inand forces within the unit to be others, thus eventually supplantingintegrated. international politics."14 11Ibid., p. 13. 8Ibid. 12See Dougherty and Pfaltzgraft, p. 423. 9Fora more elaborate discussion, seeDougherty and Pfaltzgraft (1997). 13Ibid. 10Ernst Haas, The Uniting of Europe: 14Robert Pfatlzgraft, Jr. Britain FacesPolitical, Social and Economic Forces, 1950-1957 Europe, 1957-1967 (Philadelphia: University of(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1958). Pennsylvania Press, 1969), p. 48. 3
  4. 4. The Spill-Over Effect parts of the world’s ocean which is a bone of contention among stakeholders. Important to the understandingof Haas neo-functionalist approach is the Managing the South China Seaconcept of spill-over. The spill-over effect, Conflicts: Lessons from Other Seasor what Mitrany calls as ramificationeffect, states that cooperation in one In the Baltic Sea, marinefunctional area may lead to further scientists have been involved in variouscooperation in other areas that may forms of cooperation in marine policy.include the political area. This "gradual These marine scientists have played apoliticization" of relevant players may vital role in enacting national legislationlead to the deepening and widening of in various regional agreements aimingintegration process. to manage disputes over continental shelf boundaries in the Baltic Sea.16 In the “gradual politicization Disputes have also been mitigated by aprocess”, functional issues previously web of both bilateral and multilateralconsidered "technical" and "non- agreements initiated by experts andcontroversial" become "political" because specialists with the support of politicalin reaction to initial "technical" purposes, leaders.relevant players eventually agree toapply the spectrum of political means In the Mediterranean Sea, marinedeemed appropriate to attain them.15 scientists took an active part in numerous cooperative actions by theMANAGING CONFLICTS IN coastal states to protect the environment.THE SOUTH CHINA They participated in the making of theSEA THE FUNCTIONALIST WAY Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea and its five There are functional areas where protocols.17experts and elite in China and ASEANclaimants may cooperate to manage In the North Sea, marineconflicts in the South China. Marine regionalism may also be seen throughscientists in China and ASEAN the efforts of the marine scientists toclaimants involved in various types of arrive at a comprehensive sea-useresearch in the South China Sea may planning which aims to develop acontribute to the management of “balanced and effective battery ofconflicts in the South China Sea. Marine instruments for both national andscientists in these countries may learnlessons from a group of marine scientistsengaged in research in the Baltic Sea, theNorth Sea, the Mediterranean Sea , the 16See Ton Ijstra, “Development ofArctic Sea, and the Antarctic Ocean. Resource Jurisdiction in the EC’s Regional Seas: National EEZ Policy of EC Member States in theThis group of marine scientists advance Northeast Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, andthe idea of marine regionalism, which the Baltic Sea”, Ocean Development andprovides a framework for a coordinated International Law, Vol. 23 (1992).marine scientific research in various 17 Ibid. Also in Mark Valencia, Jon M. Van Dyke and Noel A. Ludwig, Sharing the Resources of the South China Sea, Paperback edition (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), p. 15Dougherty and Pflatzgraft, p. 423. 150. 4
  5. 5. international administration and Through their reliable scientific findings,management” of the North Sea.” experts and scientists push for the collective protection of the Antarctic In the Antarctic Ocean, the Treaty for the benefit of all claimantAntarctic Treaty is an excellent model states. Instead of competing for thewhere marine scientists in the South resources of the Antarctic, experts andChina Sea may learn a lot of lessons scientists propose a model that upholdsfrom. According to Jim Barnes, the the collective utilization of AntarcticaTreaty can serve as a practical model to and its resources through “jointresolve disputes in the South China management”. Experts and scientistsSea.18 also uphold the idea of making the Antarctic a pristine world park and “a The Antarctic Treaty Model center for peaceful scientific inquiry.”(ATM) provides a model to manage Thus, the Antarctic Treaty guarantees forconflicts. The ATM, which was signed the collective governance of thein 1959, calls for the eventual Antarctic Ocean.demilitarization of the area. As ademilitarized area, the twelve claimantstates are strongly urged to prohibit Marine Scientists and Functionalism in“any measures of military rule, such as the South China Seathe establishment of military bases andfortifications, the carrying out military Learning lessons from the othermaneuvers, and the testing of any types Seas particularly the Antarctic Ocean,of weapon.”19 there is now a proposal among marine scientists engaged in scientific research The ATM also upholds the in the South China Sea to declare thecollective utilization of the resources in disputed area a neutral area. There is aAntarctica. For any disputes that may move among marine scientists toarise, the ATM mandates the use of convert the South China Sea into a“negotiation, inquiry, mediation, marine park.21conciliation, arbitration, judicialsettlement, or other peaceful means of This proposal is based on thetheir own choice” to manage conflicts in scientific findings that the South Chinathe area20 Sea is known breeding ground for tuna fish and other fish resources that migrate What is notable in the ATM is the into nearby fishing areas of claimantvital role played by experts and states.scientists in convincing political leadersto eschew political issues in the area and Marine scientists also describeto start cooperating in functional areas. the South China Sea as “the center of marine generic richness and diversity in 18Jim Barnes, “Using the Antarctic Treaty the world” and a macro-ecosystemas the Basis for Resolving the Spratly Islands characterized by “high bio-diversity andDispute” (14 May 1999). 19See Article XI, Section 1 of the 1959 21John .W. McManus, “The SpratlyAntarctic Treaty. Islands: A Marine Park Alternative” ICLARM Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 3 (July 1992). Also see his 20Ibid. “The Spratly Islands: A Marine Park”, Ambio, Vol. 23, No. 3 (1994), pp. 181-186. 5
  6. 6. fisheries productivity” due to the Within the parks, all economic activity“intrinsic connectivity of coral reefs, sea- should be prohibited except environment-grass, and mangrove forests.”22 Because friendly tourism. The Spratlys are thus giventhe South China Sea is the locus of back to their original inhabitants.26complex ecological connectivities, thearea has been considered a “savingsbank” of all claimant states.23 Dr. Celso R. Roque, President of the World Wide Fund for Nature By turning the South China Sea Philippines (WWF Philippines), alsointo a neutral international marine park, subscribes with the proposal to convertmarine scientists and experts firmly the South China Sea into a marine parkbelieve that “all claimants could with the Antarctic Treaty as a model. Incontinue to benefit from the living the WWF study, Roque underscores:resources emanating from the area.”24By so doing, they argue that “a host of The main idea of an approach basedpotential conflicts could be avoided” on the Antarctic Treaty Model (ATM) andincluding the tens of millions of dollars its protocols is the moratorium on all claimsbeing spend annually on maintaining to sovereignty for a long period, sauy 30-50garrisons of troops that are used to years. The Spratly Islands and vicinity willguard against every claimant states.25 be considered, in ther interregnum, as an International Marine Park or World This proposal is gaining support Heritage Site. The principal purpose of thefrom other scholars abroad. Stein site will be for conservation and scientificTonnesson, Director of the International research. Fisheries may be allowed inPeace Research Institute based in Oslo accordance with a sustainable managementand who has been writing intensively regime. Mineral activities will also beabout the issue of the South China Sea, suspended for the duration of the Treaty.agrees to the functionalist approach of Demilitarization of the entire area ismanaging conflicts in the South China imperartive. The claimants and otherSea. In one of his writings, Tonnesson stakeholders such as the scientificstrongly propose that: community may agree on a Framework of Joint Management.27 All claimants transfer their allegedsovereignty over the Spratlys to a regional or In his letter to then Philippineinternational authority, which is set up to Defense Secretary Orlando S. Mercado,administer a system of marine nature parks. Roque contends that the ATM will be beneficial to all parties, without permanently giving up claims to 22 Miguel D. Fortes, “The Role of Marine sovereignty. Roque even recommendedEnvironmental Science in the Western Philippine to Mercado to get cabinet approval ofSeas”, University of the Philippines MarineScience Institute (Unpublished, 1999), p. 23See Clarita R. Carlos, “Ecological 26Stein Tonnesson, “Here’s How to SettleConnectivity in the South China Sea” (National the Rocky Disputes in the South China Sea” inDefense College of the Philippines, unpublished International Herald Tribune,m (6 September 2000).paper, 2001). Also see “Settling South China Sea disputes", The Straits Times (7 September 2000). 24McManus, p. 6. 27Letter of Dr. Celso R. Roque to then 25Ibid. Secretary Orlando S. Mercado on 1 July 1999. 6
  7. 7. the ATM approach to the ASEAN which sovereignty in the South China Sea .will draft a Treaty on the South China Participants rather focus on otherSea.28 subjects that may trigger cooperation rather than conflict on the issue. TheirThe Role of Experts, Non-Governmental activities include mutual sharing of Players an Governments in Managing scientific findings and legal opinions. Conflicts in the South China Sea Aside from the Workshop, Functionalism pays attention to experts and practitioners from thethe vital role of experts, non- United Nations Environmentalgovernmental players and even Programme (UNEP) initiated a projectgovernments in the management of on the South China Sea with the aim ofconflicts. In the South China Sea, offering alternative approach to manageexperts, non-governmental players and conflicts in the disputed territoy. UNEPeven some government officials have project led to the development of thebeen initiating functionalist projects to Strategic Action Program for the Southmanage conflicts in the area. China Sea. Officials from Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philipines, and Aiming to manage potential Thailand signed the Strategic Actionconflicts in the South China Sea, two Program for implementation.experts (Ambassador Hasji, Djalal ofIndonesia and Prof. Ian Townsend- However, political problems inGault of Canada) initiated a series of China prevented the program to beinformal multilateral workshops on the implemented. Although Chineseissue. Internationally known as the experts and officials were involved inWorkshop on Managing Potential the preparation stages, the ChineseConflicts in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs refused toseries of meetings started in 1990 two sign. According to Tom Naes of theyears after the military confrontation University of Oslo, “The UNEPbetween China and Vietnam over the initiative, which was aimed atissue of the Spratlys. improving management and protection of the marine environment of the South The primary objective of the China Sea, ran into difficulties becauseWorkshop was to initially gather the China has unresolved sovereigntyparties for discussions on how to conflicts with its Southeast Asianmanage the conflict in the South China neighbors.” 29 Despite that, ASEANSea in the light of the provisions of the experts and officials continue to engage1982 United Nations Convention on the China in various peaceful andLaw of the Sea (UNCLOS). Since its confidence building talks through thecreation, four technical working groupshave been created dealing with legalmatters and scientific research. All 29 Tom Næss, Environment and Security inmeetings of the Workshop uphold some the South China Sea Region: The Role of Experts,functionalist assumptions when the Non-Governmental Actors and Governments inparticipants set aside the sensitive and Regime Building Processes .A thesis for the Cand. Polit. degree at the Department of Politicalhighly controversial issue of Science, University of Oslo, December 1999. Published in the SUM Dissertations & Thesis series as No. 1/2000 (ISSN 0806-475X). Also see in 28Ibid. http://www.sum.uio.no/southchinasea/. 7
  8. 8. ARF and the South China Sea Working Group in managing conflictsWorkshops. in the South China Sea. Another initiatives undertaken FUNCTIONALIST OPTION FORby experts to manage conflicts in the CHINA AND ASEAN CLAIMANTSouth China Sea is the formation of the STATESAssociation of Southeast MarineScientists (ASEAMS) in 1986. The To effectively manage conflictsASEAMS aims to provide independent, in the South China Sea, China and theexpert scientific advice regarding ASEAN claimants may seriously adoptprograms being implemented in the the functionalist option. The variousEast Asian Sea region including the collaborative efforts initiated by theSouth China Sea. Its participants Council for Security Cooperation in theincluded not only marine experts but Asia Pacific (CSCAP), the Indonesian-also members of non-governmental Canadian Workshops on the Southorganizations (NGOs) and China Sea and other Tract Twointergovernmental organizations activities in the region are proper venue(IGOs). However, the ASEAMS was where experts and scholars in Chinadissolved in 1996 due to funding and ASEAN claimants may cooperateconstraints. in managing disputes in the South China Sea. Aside from the above-mentioned initiatives of marine experts, Eschewing the discussion onthere are still a lot of initiatives from the sovereignty aspect of the Southother groups. These initiatives are China Sea issue is a very usefuldiscussed in the study of Tom Naes strategic move to lay down the properwho examines the extent to which framework for a fruitful cooperation inmaritime experts and organizations functional areas.working with environmental issues canfacilitate the establishment of an ocean Rather than focusing on themanagement regime in the South China ownership of territory, China andSea. ASEAN claimants shall push for Describing how scientists maritime security. Rather than focusinginteract at the regional level, Naes on a highly sensitive issue ofarticulates some functionalist sovereignty, the China and ASEANassumptions when he tries to “discuss claimants shall uphold cooperation inthe likelihood that the regional scientific navigation, communication, shippingcommunity will obtain political enough and environmental research.31influence (sic) to make environmentalquestions take precedence in regional Shelving the sovereignty issuepolitics.”30 He also describes the factors and upholding the functionalist issuesthat prevent scientists from influencing may provide peaceful solution of thedecision-makers in so far as ocean South China Sea conflict. This is anmanagement is concerned. Naes alsodiscussed the role of the Council forSecurity Cooperation in the Asia Pacific 31See Ramses Amer, “Towards a(CSCAP) Maritime Cooperation Declaration on Navigational Rights in the Sea- lanes of the Asia Pacific”, Contemporary 30Ibid., p. 4. Southeast Asia, Vol. 20, No. 1 (April 1998). 8
  9. 9. alternative option for China andASEAN claimants. To manage the South China Sea SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONconflict the functionalist way, Chinaand ASEAN claimants shall create a By upholding functionalism –climate of cooperation dominated by the low politics approach, China andlow politics. To do this, China and ASEAN claimants may manage existingASEAN claimants shall encourage more conflicts in the South China Sea throughthe participation of like-minded the development of habits of cooperationscientists and experts engaged in among experts, scientists and politicalvarious functionalist areas of research. leaders. By enhancing regionalAs experiences of other regions have cooperation in low politics area,shown, the establishment of like- cooperation in high politics area mayminded group of scientists and experts eventually occur. As articulated by thenengaged in functional cooperation in Philippine Defense Secretary Mercado:conflict ridded area has changed theboth the normative and casual beliefs of The regional “low politics” approachdecision-makers.32 This like-minded is appropriate for the short-and-medium-group of scientists and experts has term objectives…in the South China Sea.formed an “epistemic community” This will enhance the use of “high politics”which is an integrated, transnational approach in the long-term. By promotingnetwork of scientists that can influence habits of cooperation or building confidencedecision makers.33 through the “low politics” approach, “high politics” issues will have greater access of China and ASEAN claimants resolution.34may capitalize on these experiences.They shall exert efforts to provide aclimate of cooperation in the disputedarea dominated not by high politics butby low politics. They may alsoencourage the development of an“epistemic community” to help allclaimants functionally manage theconflict in the South China Sea. 32Tom Naes, “Epistemic Communitiesand Environmental Cooperation in the SouthChina Sea” (Paper presented during theWorkshops on the Conflict in the South China Seaheld in Oslo, Norway on 24-26 April 1999). 33Ibid. Also see Peter Haas (ed), 34 Orlando S. Mercado, “PhilippineKnowledge, Power and International Coordination: Defense Policy on the South China Sea” (PaperInternational Organization, Special Issue, Vol. 46, presented on 20 October 1999 at the DepartmentNo. 1 (Winter 1992). of Foreign Affairs during the Forum entitled “The South China Sea: Problems and Prospects). 9
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