The Vietnam Lawyers’ Association (VLA) on May 9 called on legal practitioners around the world to raise their voice to protect justice and international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In a declaration on China ’s illegal placement of an oil rig in Vietnam ’s waters, released during a press conference in Hanoi , the association strongly condemned the Chinese side and requested that they immediately stop the illegal move and remove the drilling rig and all escort vessels out of Vietnamese waters.

The VLA also demanded that China not conduct similar acts within Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in future.

The declaration reiterated that on May 2, China positioned its rig at 15 degrees 29 minutes 58 seconds north latitude and 111 degrees 12 minutes 06 seconds east longitude, south of Tri Ton Island .

The location was 80 nautical miles deep in Vietnam ’s continental shelf, it noted.

The rig is escorted by a large number of vessels, including military ones, which deliberately rammed into ships of the Vietnam Coast Guard and Fisheries Surveillance Force, causing property damage and threatening the lives of the crewmembers, it said.

The Chinese oil rig and vessels are operating totally within an area of Vietnam ’s exclusive economic zone and continental shelf, said the association.

China ’s move defies international law and obviously violated Vietnam ’s sovereignty as well as the 1982 UNCLOS (Articles 58 and 77) of which China itself is a member, the VLA said.

This also goes against the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea agreed between China and ASEAN member countries, making the situation more complicated and causing instability in the East Sea , the association affirmed.

China has no good reasons to compare its illegal act with Vietnam ’s legal activities of exploring and exploiting oil in its waters, the VLA underscored.

The association asked the Chinese side to strictly abide by international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS which clearly states that no one may undertake the activities of exploring the continental shelf or exploiting the natural resources of a coastal state without the express consent of the coastal state.

At the same time, China should strictly implement commitments contained in the DOC, stated the association.

The association also confirmed that it hopes to boost friendship and cooperation between the peoples of Vietnam and China as well as between lawyers of both sides. Meanwhile, it claimed that it will spare no efforts to protect justice and international law.-VNA