G7 Foreign Ministers at their first meeting in Hiroshima, Japan (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – G7 Foreign Ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to further international cooperation on maritime security and safety in a statement released on April 11.

The Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the US and High Representative of the European Union met in Hiroshima, Japan, on April 10 and 11 to discuss issue related to counterterrorism and global security.

In their statement on maritime security issued at the meeting, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally recognized principles of international law, including those reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“We reiterate our commitment to the freedoms of navigation and overflight and other internationally lawful uses of the high seas and the exclusive economic zones as well as to the related rights and freedoms in other maritime zones, including the rights of innocent passage, transit passage and archipelagic sea lanes passage consistent with international law,” the statement said.

The ministers expressed concern about the situation in the East and South China Seas, and emphasized the fundamental importance of peaceful management and settlement of disputes.

“We express our strong opposition to any intimidating, coercive or provocative unilateral actions that could alter the status quo and increase tensions, and urge all states to refrain from such actions as land reclamations including large scale ones, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and to act in accordance with international law including the principles of freedoms of navigation and overflight,” the statement said.

In areas pending final delimitation, the ministers underlined the importance of coastal states refraining from unilateral actions that cause permanent physical change to the marine environment insofar as such actions jeopardize or hamper the reaching of the final agreement, as well as the importance of making every effort to enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature, in those areas.

The ministers encouraged further engagement in confidence building measures such as dialogue which seek to build trust and security in the region, while calling for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety and the early establishment of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC).

The ministers also firmly condemned piracy and armed robbery at sea, transnational organized crime and terrorism in the maritime domain, trafficking in persons, the smuggling of migrants, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and other maritime activities that threaten global stability, security and prosperity, and expressed their continued commitment to pursue international cooperation to combat these threats.

The G7 Foreign Ministers said they shared the determination to target the causes of illegal maritime activities and cooperate through capacity building assistance for maritime security and safety in such areas as maritime governance, coast guard, disaster relief, maritime search and rescue, and maritime information sharing and integration, as well as legislative, judicial, prosecutorial and correctional assistance in order to help coastal states to deal with their own vulnerabilities.

They welcomed and encouraged research activities aimed at providing scientific and technological support to enhance maritime security.

“We further seek to build cooperation regarding the development of a future legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction,” the ministers said in the statement.

The meeting also adopted a Joint Communiqué, a G7 Foreign Ministers’ Hiroshima Declaration on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, and a G7 Statement on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.-VNA