Integrity Legal

26th June 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) may have witnessed what would appear to have been an inadvertent breach of the American border by a convoy of Mexican troops. In order to provide further insight into these developments it may be prudent to quote directly from the official website of the NBC affiliate KGNS-TV at Pro8News.com:

A convoy of three military trucks loaded with Mexican soldiers crosses the border at Bridge Number Two clearly violating  international law. It happens as Customs and Border Protection inspectors try to figure out what to do. A CBP spokesperson says they got on the phone with Mexican authorities after being alerted that the military trucks were heading their direction loaded down with soldiers and weapons. Mexican leaders say the soldiers, who had just been deployed to Nuevo Laredo, didn’t know the area, got lost and then made their way through Bridge Two. It’s important to note that CBP did not tell us about the potentially serious situation. It came from another law enforcement agency…

This blogger strongly encourages readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this informative article as well as the video coverage of this event.

Readers may be taken somewhat aback upon learning of some of these events as it is not everyday that Americans see such developments. That stated, this blogger would feel somewhat remiss if he failed to bring up a  similar incident which occurred in Spain a little over 9 years ago, if only to provide some perspective. To quote directly from a 2002 article posted on the official website of CNN, CNN.com:

British troops temporarily invaded Spain when a landing exercise on Gibraltar went wrong. About 20 Royal Marines landed in bad weather on a Spanish beach, thinking they were on British territory. They hastily retreated after locals told them of their error… Spain’s foreign ministry played down the incident as a harmless error that would not undermine negotiations aimed at resolving the Gibraltar issue…

Those interested in the full details of the aforementioned event are encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to ascertain the whole story.

Clearly, even in an international context, accidents can happen. Inadvertent mistakes can occur. Hopefully these events will be a lesson to America’s public servants about the need to anticipate unexpected events. This blogger must state that in all of his rather limited dealings with USCBP personnel they have comported themselves in a very professional manner. To be candid, USCBP has one of the more difficult jobs in all of the pantheon of American civil service as their responsibilities place USCBP officers in situations where they encounter the most unexpected events (as can be seen from the aforementioned quotation). It is likely hoped that these circumstances will provide insight to future officers. On a side note: unless there has been some very recent change of which this blogger is unaware, the United States Customs and Border Protection Service (USCBP) currently chairs the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Sub-committee on Customs Procedures. This post was handed off from the Japan Customs and Tariff Bureau in September of last year.

In somewhat related news it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Foreign Minister of Singapore has noted his belief that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) may have a role in dealing with tensions arising in the South China Sea. To quote directly from the website of Channel News Asia, ChannelNewsAsia.com:

INDONESIA: Singapore said ASEAN can play a role managing territorial disputes in the South China Sea. The resource rich waters are being claimed – in part or all – by a number of ASEAN countries, as well as China and Taiwan. Tensions recently escalated between the Philippines and China over overlapping claims. Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam said all parties must learn to resolve these occasional incidences, without increasing tension…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks above to read this story in detail.

Clearly, the nations which compose ASEAN (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) are going to be increasingly important in any international dialogue pertaining to the South China Sea. The news noted above comes amidst developing news regarding talks between the United States and China. It would appear as though one of the main objectives of these talks is the maintenance of freedom of navigation at sea. However, maintaining such freedom can often require timely discussions especially in geographic areas with a history of tension. To quote further from ChannelNewsAsia.com:

HONOLULU, Hawaii : The United States and China were holding first-of-a-kind talks Saturday on rising tensions in the South China Sea, with Beijing angry over Washington’s support of Southeast Asian countries. Senior officials of the Pacific powers were meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, days after the United States rallied behind the Philippines and Vietnam which have been alarmed at what they see as Beijing’s growing assertiveness at sea. Kurt Campbell, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said ahead of the talks that he would make clear to China the “strong principles” of the United States in defence of freedom of navigation…[sic]

This blogger encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to learn more.

Disputes occurring on the high seas can sometimes have implications for virtually every country around the world. As Southeast Asian nations continue to thrive and expand both in a domestic economic context as well as in an international economic context it stands to reason that their growth may be concerning to other jurisdictions in Asia. Meanwhile, the increasing prominence of the so-called BRICS countries in an international context has raised discussion regarding the geopolitical complexion of the future global economy. Hopefully, discussions pertaining to all of these matters will yield tangible benefits for the people who could be most impacted by events occurring in this region.

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