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Jun 15, 2022 / 18:22

UNCLOS – Constitution for the Ocean: Group of Friends

UNCLOS provides an effective framework for the governance of the oceans and its resources.

Group of Friends, which consists of 115 members established following Vietnam and Germany’s initiative, has reiterated that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is “the constitution for the ocean” that helps promote compliance with international law.

 The meeting gathers experts and representatives of dozens of countries on June 14. Photos: MOFA

UNCLOS is a comprehensive document that governs all activities in the seas and oceans, according to the group that has 12 founding members namely Argentina, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Jamaica, Kenya, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Senegal, South Africa, and Vietnam.

The statement was shared at the meeting held at the Permanent Mission of Vietnam to the United Nations in New York on June 14 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention.

Set up on June 30, 2021, the Group of Friends on UNCLOS is an open forum for opening exchanges on issues of mutual interest.

The heads of 12 founding nations joined the event including Vanessa Frazier, Malta’s Head of Mission and the 32nd President of the Meeting of States Parties (SPLOS) to UNCLOS; Miguel Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel; Vladimir Jares, Director of Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, and nearly 100 representatives and experts on the law of the sea of UNCLOS member states and Group of Friends.

 Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Head of the Permanent Delegation of Vietnam to the UN, makes a welcome speech.

In his welcome speech, on behalf of the 12 founding countries, Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Head of the Permanent Delegation of Vietnam to the UN, said the participation shows the countries’ common commitment to uphold UNCLOS which is often referred to as the “constitution of the oceans.”

He hoped the Group of Friends would continue to develop and contribute further to the international joint efforts to respond to challenges.

Vanessa Frazier affirmed that UNCLOS is a comprehensive document that governs all activities in the seas and oceans.

She believes that strong support and commitment to UNCLOS will help countries improve their international prestige and expand their participation.

She said the UNCLOS Friends Group will create an open and friendly forum for countries to exchange sea and ocean issues, thereby making common contributions to the full implementation of UNCLOS, including SPLOS meetings.

 Miguel Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel, speaks at the event.

Meanwhile, Miguel Soares said that UNCLOS is an important development of international law, which has been widely supported by UN member states and thereby has become customary international law, creating a framework for marine activities, including sustainable development of seas.

Soares welcomed the Group’s positive activities and expected further contributions to discussing issues related to the sea and ocean to be made this year.

At the Special Session of the UN General Assembly commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Convention held in April 2022, the 12 co-founders of the Group released a joint statement, which emphasized the universal and enduring values of UNCLOS, the importance of the full observance and implementation of the Convention, peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for legal and diplomatic processes, and joint solutions for common sea and ocean challenges.

So far, the Group of Friends on UNCLOS has 115 members, including Permanent Five (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US).

UNCLOS lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It enshrines the notion that all problems of ocean space are closely interrelated and need to be addressed as a whole.

Today, it is the globally recognized regime dealing with all matters relating to the law of the sea.