Jul 01, 2021 / 16:15

Group of Friends launched to promote UNCLOS

The group, set up following an initiative launched by Vietnam and Germany, is an open forum for opening exchanges on issues of mutual interest.

A friend group of 96 signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) made its debut on June 30, 2021 at the UN headquarters in New York.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN. Photo: VNA 

The debut marked the attendance of Miguel de Serpa Soares, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, and representatives of 96 member states.

The UNCLOS Group of Friends, which was set up following an initiative launched by Vietnam and Germany, is an open forum for opening exchanges on issues of mutual interest.

Representatives of many countries highly appreciated the initiative, saying that it helps uphold the role and values of UNCLOS, promote compliance with UNCLOS, create a coordination mechanism to jointly address challenges to UNCLOS and challenges in the maritime and oceans such as environmental pollution, climate change, sea-level rise, implementation of sustainable development goals.

All countries, regardless of socio-economic and geographical conditions, have interests in complying with the implementation of UNCLOS was the common perception at the launching ceremony.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, thanked the countries for supporting the initiative, saying that Vietnam, being one of the 12 founding countries of the UNCLOS Group of Friends, affirms its commitments to comply with UNCLOS, the UN Charter, and international law.

Quy expressed his hope that the group will contribute to increasing understanding of UNCLOS, sharing good practices in applying UNCLOS to maritime delimitation, peaceful settlement of disputes, and ocean governance. Thereby, it supports the implementation of UNCLOS and settles the common concerns of the international community.

Members of the UNCLOS Group of Friends represent all geographical regions, including the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, countries in Asia-Pacific such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, and other regions.

 UNCLOS referred to as a constitution for the oceans. Photo: UN

UNCLOS, an international treaty that was adopted and signed in 1982, sets out a comprehensive legal framework for all activities in the oceans and seas. It has often been referred to as “a constitution for the oceans.”

It replaced the four Geneva Conventions of April, 1958, which respectively concerned the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the high seas, fishing, and conservation of living resources on the high seas.

Under the Convention, three new institutions were created, namely the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority, and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.