Thursday, August 17, 2017 - 2:43:20

Vietnam underlines role and position of UNCLOS

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Vietnam has highlighted the great significance, the critical role and the important value of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as “a Constitution for the Oceans” at the 24th meeting of States – Parties to the Convention held in New York from June 9-13.

Ambassador Le Hoai Trung, Permanent Representative of Vietnam and head of the Vietnamese delegation to the meeting, also informed the meeting on the serious developments in the East Sea (South China Sea as otherwise called) since China illegally placed the giant Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling rig deep into the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam.

The following is the full text of Ambassador Trung’s statement:

“Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
First of all, I would like to express the great pleasure of my delegation and I to see you in the presidency of this 24th Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). My delegation warmly congratulates you the successful outcome of the meeting.

I would like to take this opportunity to express the Vietnamese Government’s high appreciation of the achievements made by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf as well as the International Seabed Authority as reflected in their respective reports presented at the Meeting. We congratulate the seven newly elected and re-elected judges of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the newly elected member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. I wish them every success in their work. Vietnam is grateful to the UN Secretary General H.E. Ban Ki-moon and the UN Secretariat for their strong support for UNCLOS and thanks his important reports on developments and issues relating to ocean affairs the law of the sea and on the implementation of UNCLOS. My delegation warmly congratulates Niger for becoming the 166th member of the UNCLOS.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
Two years ago, we celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of UNCLOS. This year is of great significance to the State Parties of the UNCLOS as well since we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. As “a Constitution for the Oceans”, UNCLOS embodies the tremendous efforts of the international community to establish an equitable international legal order for use, exploitation, management and sustainable development of the oceans and seas. The Convention sets out legal regimes of the various maritime zones under the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the coastal state as well as those governing the high sea and the Area. It also provides the benchmarks against which the suitability and legality of the activities carried out by states at sea are measured.

Once again, we highlight the great significance, the critical role and the important value of UNCLOS to the humanity. We are of the view that all the State Parties to UNCLOS are under the obligation to implement all the provisions of Convention in good faith, thus ensuring peaceful and sustainable exploitation, uses and development of the oceans and the sea. Each State Party to UNCLOS also bears responsibility to respect all the legitimate rights and interests of other States Parties in their territorial seas, contiguous zones, Exclusive Economic Zones and Continental Shelves. All unilateral activities that infringe upon the sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the coastal state contravene the relevant provisions of UNCLOS.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Delegates,
As a coastal State, Vietnam fully understands and highly values the importance of the Convention. Vietnam signed the Convention on the very first day it was open for signature. In the past years, Vietnam has made serious efforts to comply with the provisions of UNCLOS, reflected among others, the adoption of the Law of the Sea of Vietnam in 2012. The Law sets out principles to define the limits and the legal regimes of the maritime zones of Vietnam and, at the same time, creates a legal framework to govern all the activities carried out within the Vietnamese maritime zones in conformity with the UNCLOS.

Mr. President,
At this Meeting, I would like to bring to your kind attention the serious developments in the East Sea (South China Sea as otherwise called). Since May 2, 2014, China illegally placed the giant Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling rig 80 nautical miles deep into the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. As of today, the drilling rig remains deep within the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of Vietnam. Accompanying the rig is a large number of vessels, including military ships, which at times rises to more than 130, and military aircraft. Chinese vessels have intentionally rammed and fired water cannon on civilian law enforcement and fishing vessels of Vietnam. On May 26, 2014, China’s vessels rammed and sank one Vietnamese fishing boat with 10 fishermen on board who were fishing within the exclusive economic zone of Vietnam.

China’s above-mentioned acts have seriously infringed upon the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of Vietnam in its maritime zones established in accordance with UNCLOS and threatened peace, stability, maritime security and safety, and freedom of navigation and aviation in and over the East Sea. They are therefore violations of international law and UNCLOS and go against both the spirit and language of the Declaration on the Conducts of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) to which China is a party and the agreements between the leaders of China and Vietnam. They are consequently causing serious concerns among the Vietnamese people, countries in the region and the international community, undermining the trust between Vietnam and China and adversely affecting the friendship between the two peoples. Also of direct relevance to this Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS is the fact that two thirds of global seaborne transport of commercial goods go through the East Sea and the above-mentioned situation has significant implications for the integrity of the spirit and language of UNCLOS and their implementation.

Proceeding from its consistent policy of settling international disputes by peaceful means and the most sincere desire to preserve and promote the friendship with China, abiding by its commitments under UNCLOS and fully bearing in mind the interests of international peace and security, Vietnam has exercised the utmost restraint and put forth repeated constructive proposals. These include Vietnam’s more than 30 communications at various levels and through different channels with China, requesting it to immediately withdraw its drilling rig and accompanying vessels, which, among other things, would help create an environment conducive to dialogue, and proposing early dialogue and negotiations between China and Vietnam to resolve disputes, including the issues related to the drilling rig. So far, China has not only failed to respond positively to Vietnam’s proposals and the appeal of the international community, but also continued with its most unfortunate fore-going acts.

On this occasion Vietnam once again requests that China immediately withdraw its Haiyang Shiyou 981 drilling rig and accompanying vessels from the maritime waters of Vietnam and settle disputes through negotiations and other peaceful means in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS. We highly appreciate and call for the continued attention by the international community, including UNCLOS States Parties, to the situation in the East Sea, their opposition against unilateral acts that create tensions and their support for the non-use or threat of use of force and settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including UNCLOS 1982. These are indeed essential to the effectiveness of the UNCLOS which the States Parties have determined to be of historic significance and of the most important, all-around interests of humankind.

I thank you very much for your kind attention.”-VNA
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