Vietnam has emphasised the significance and importance of the UNCLOS, a comprehensive international legal order that has been established in the oceans and seas.

The statement was made by Le Luong Minh, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador, Head of the Vietnamese delegation to the United Nations, at the 21 st Meeting of States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in New York from June 13-17.

All States Parties to the UNCLOS are therefore obliged to implement the UNCLOS in good faith and a responsible manner to ensure just and sustainable uses of the seas and the oceans, Minh said, adding that States Parties must comply with the provisions of the UNCLOS in delimitating their maritime zones in which they exercise their sovereignty, sovereign rights and jurisdiction and must duly respect the legitimate rights and interests of other States Parties under the UNCLOS.

“Vietnam always respects and takes into consideration the rights enjoyed by other States under the UNCLOS, thus contributing to the maintenance of regional peace and security and promoting the legitimate uses of the South China Sea in accordance with the UNCLOS,” he stressed.

He affirmed that the Vietnamese government strongly advocates successful implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) signed between ASEAN and China in 2002 and the eventual adoption of a Code of Conducts (COC) in the South China Sea and is doing its part in this aspect.

“In this connection, we would like to reiterate our consistent position that all claims of national sovereignty or sovereign rights and jurisdiction over maritime spaces that are not in accordance with the provisions of the UNCLOS, such as the nine-dotted line in the South China Sea, illustrated in the map presented by the People's Republic of China to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 7 May 2009, are totally illegal and unacceptable, he affirmed.

In this connection, the Vietnamese diplomat reported on some serious incidents which happened recently in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of coastal states bordering the South China Sea. On May 26, 2011, Chinese marine surveillance vessels severed the surveying cables used by Binh Minh 02, a survey vessel of the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Corporation (PVN), which was conducting seismic survey activity in an area only 120 nautical miles from the coast of Vietnam and 340 nautical miles from the coast of China's Hainan island.

On June 9, 2011, a Chinese fishing vessel supported by two Chinese fishery administration vessels hindered the normal operation of Viking II, a seismic survey vessel chartered by PVN, trying to cut off Viking II’s surveying cable. The Viking II incident took place in an area l70 nautical miles from the closest point on the Vietnamese baselines and 700 nautical miles from Hainan island.

“These intentional, systematic and well prepared activities seriously infringe upon Vietnam ’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over its exclusive economic zone and continental shelf under the UNCLOS, running counter to the provisions of the UNCLOS,” the ambassador stressed.

He went on to say that Vietnam is resolutely opposed to any encroachment upon her legitimate maritime zones by using unfounded territorial and maritime claims to mislead the public into believing that the incidents had taken place in a disputed area.

Such activities do not contribute to the maintenance of peace and security in the South China Sea and go counter to the spirit and literature of the DOC, in which ASEAN and China expressed their strong commitments to the maintenance of peace, security and stability in the region and to international law, he affirmed.

“In this context, Vietnam reiterates its call to all states in the South China Sea region to work more closely with each other to ensure a peaceful and stable environment for cooperation and development in the region and to promote the observance of the UNCLOS,” Minh said.

Sharing the views of Vietnam, many other ASEAN countries stressed the need to strictly abide by the UNCLOS’s regulations while conducting maritime activities, as well as the importance of maintaining peace, stability and security in the East Sea region, fully implementing the DOC towards the early adoption of a Code of Conducts on the East Sea./.

This year’s meeting assessed the operations of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the International Seabed Authority, and discussed measures to boost their activities. It also elected seven judges to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea./.