BY H.E. AMBASSADOR BUI THE GIANG
CHARGE D’AFFAIRES OF THE PERMANENT MISSION
OF THE SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF VIET NAM TO THE UNITED NATIONS
AT THE JOINT DEBATE OF THE 66TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION
ON AGENDA ITEM 76:
“OCEANS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA”
New York, 6 December 2011
In view of both positive and negative developments to date in all spheres of life on this planet, we cannot emphasize enough the critical role that oceans, seas, islands and coastal areas play in sustaining economic prosperity, global food security and the well-being of many national economies, particularly in developing countries, as well as in the advancement of human civilization. In this context, my Delegation fully supports the continued oversight by the United Nations General Assembly of developments relating to the law of the sea and ocean affairs through its annual review under the consolidated Agenda Item entitled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea”. We thank the Secretary-General for the comprehensive report contained in Documents A/66/70 and A/66/70/Add.1 which provide excellent information for a well-grounded discussion of the topic.
My Delegation takes this opportunity to register its appreciation of the work done in the past year by the mechanisms established by the United Nations General Assembly in this respect. We encourage the General Assembly to consider and endorse the recommendations made by the Twelfth Meeting of the United NationsOpen-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, the Fourth Meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction and the Second Meeting of the Ad hoc Working Group of the Whole on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, all held in New York in June this year. We welcome the achievement made by the 1982 Convention bodies, namely the Assembly of the Sea-bed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the UNCLOS) of which the Thirtieth Anniversary we shall celebrate next year represents an outstanding achievement by the international community in the work on the law on the ocean and the sea. The adoption of the UNCLOS in 1982 after nine years of intensive negotiations under the sponsorship of the United Nations, its entry into force in 1994 and the fact that as of today 162 States have become Parties to the Convention prove that this modern Constitution for the Oceans, though not fully satisfying the interests and objectives of every State, does stand the test of time and has been the basis for national, regional and global action and cooperation in the marine sector.
In many ways, the Convention definitely constitutes an immense positive contribution to the promotion of international peace and security. The Convention provides universally recognized legal framework for coastal states to establish and exercise rights and obligations in the maritime areas under national jurisdiction. It advances the principle of peaceful settlement of disputes, endorses all the peaceful means clearly stated in paragraph 1, Article 33 of the United Nations Charter and provides for a mandatory system to be applied by States Parties to settle any dispute between them concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention. The provisions of the Convention are closely interrelated and form an integral package, thus not allowing for the possibility of a State Party to pick what it likes and to disregard what it does not like. States Parties, in exercising the rights under the Convention, must be willing to shoulder the corresponding obligations.
Viet Nam wishes to underline the common view about the enormous significance of sustainable use and development of the oceans and seas, with the maintenance of peace, stability and order at sea being an inseparable part thereof. As a coastal state with a long coastline washed by the South China Sea, known to the Vietnamese people as the Eastern Sea, Viet Nam is pleased to note the continued development of regional and international cooperation, including in the uses and management of this sea. In this regard, a key factor lies in the respect of the legal order established by the UNCLOS, to which most States surrounding the Eastern Sea are Parties.
In the Eastern Sea, there exist difficult disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime boundaries, which if not properly managed and settled could negatively impact regional peace, security and stability, hinder the legitimate uses of the sea and the resources therein for the developmental needs of the coastal states, as well as other cooperative efforts for sustainable development of the sea. Fully acknowledging this reality, Viet Nam has worked tirelessly for peaceful solutions to existing disputes in accordance with international law, including the UNCLOS, and acceptable to all parties concerned. Through peaceful negotiations, we have successfully concluded agreements on the delineation of maritime boundaries in the Bac Bo Gulf with China and in the overlapped continental shelf with Indonesia, and on the joint development of the overlapped continental shelf with Malaysia and Thailand pending final boundary delimitation.
In this regard, we commend the adoption in July 2011 of the Guidelines for the implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (the DOC) and the stated commitments to working together towards the early finalization of a Code of Conduct. We will continue to join efforts with interested parties, particularly our neighboring countries, to create an environment conducive to peace, cooperation, development and ensuring the legitimate rights and interests of all States in the Eastern Sea.
I thank you, Mr. President.