Manila, Philippines — November 26, 2009 marks a historical event as the representatives of East Asian countries to the Third Ministerial Forum signed the Agreement Recognizing the International Legal Personality of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA). The signing by Cambodia, PR China, DPR Korea, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Philippines, RO Korea and Timor-Leste was witnessed by over 1,500 East Asian Seas Congress participants from within and outside the EAS region.The Agreement re-affirms the commitment by member countries of PEMSEA to the Haikou Partnership Agreement on the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) and the Partnership Operating Arrangements which were adopted by the Second Ministerial Forum at the EAS Congress in December 2006. This recognition highlights the countries confidence in PEMSEA as the regional collaborative mechanism for the implementation of the SDS-SEA, and an important entity in building stakeholder partnerships to address the growing challenges in the Seas of East Asia.With the recognition of its legal personality, PEMSEA is vested with the legal capacity to carry out its responsibilities, including entering into contractual agreements, as well as holding and disposing of property. In line with this Agreement, PEMSEA and the Government of the Philippines are currently concluding the negotiations for the Headquarters Agreement. The Headquarters Agreement, when finalized and ratified through legal processes, will define the privileges and immunities granted by the Philippines to PEMSEA. These privileges and immunities will provide the international organization with the maximum use of its resources and with the ability to achieve full operational flexibility.