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Statement by H.E. Mr. Wang Yingfan Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

2002-10-12 00:00
Mr. President,

On the occasion of commemorating the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Chinese delegation would like to warmly congratulate and pay tribute to those who contributed to the negotiations and the signing of UNCLOS.

To meet mankind's needs in marine exploration, utilization and protection, UNCLOS, signed 20 years ago, with it provisions for ocean affairs, constitutes a basic legal framework for maritime activities of human beings and a new international maritime order.  We're pleased to note that with 138 countries having ratified and acceded to the Convention, its universality has been enhanced.  We welcome more countries acceding to it.  We are also gratified to see that the three organs established under the Convention have registered remarkable progress in their work.  The International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea has effectively and expeditiously handled several cases before it, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has received its first submission with regard to the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, and following the signing of contracts for exploration with 7 pioneer investors, the International Seabed Authority has initiated work on the formulation of regulations for prospecting and exploration of maritime resources other than polymetallic nodules, and it has stepped up maritime scientific research in the international seabed area.  We support these three organs playing a greater role in promoting the implementation of the Convention and in maintaining international maritime order.

The Chinese government attaches great importance to the role played by the Convention.  We are of the view that discussing questions relating to the Convention in the framework of the UN is essential for the implementation of this legal instrument.  The coming into being of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process is a result of the universal concern of countries over questions such as marine environment protection, integrated ocean management and sustainable utilization of marine resources.  This Informal Consultative Process has become an important forum for all countries, including non-states parties to the Convention, to discuss and coordinate their actions on questions related to ocean affairs and the law of the sea.  At the 3rd meeting of the Informal Consultative Process last April, an in-depth discussion was held on issues such as integrated ocean management, marine environment protection, capacity-building and regional cooperation.  We'd like to applaud the positive results of the meeting.  The Chinese government supports the strengthening of integrated ocean management, focused at this stage on enhancing integrated coastal area management.  We propose that the General Assembly further stress the importance of marine integrated management, and urge all coastal states to take effective measures in this regard.  At the same time, the General Assembly should also call on countries to redouble their efforts for marine environment protection, and incorporate this in their national strategies for sustainable development.  In this connection, it is important to strengthen the developing countries' capacity building in maritime activities, especially their maritime monitoring capacity, so that they can implement the Convention and benefit from it.  In addition, the developed countries should increase assistance and technology transfer to the developing countries so as to encourage the latter to formulate their own plans for the development of marine science and technology.

The Informal Consultative Process has held 3 meetings so far.  It is the view of this delegation that this process has basically served its intended purpose.  Therefore, we propose that on this basis, a "coordination network" for ocean affairs and the law of the sea be established, with the GA as its center.  Its task is to continue the consideration of the functions of relevant international organizations with respect to issues of the law of the sea while focusing its work on strengthening cooperation and coordination among these organizations on ocean affairs.

Mr. President, we believe that the entry into force of the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement last December is conducive to regulating fishing on the high seas.  However, regional efforts actually hold the key to the implementation of the agreement.  By taking part in the regional fishing management mechanisms and in the formulation of measures for regional fishing management, countries can resolve their differences within regional mechanisms.  At the same time, in full recognition of the difficulties and special needs faced by the developing countries in the implementation of the Convention, the developed countries should provide them with all necessary assistance and facilities with a view to enhancing their capability to implement the agreements and manage their fishing activities.

The Chinese delegation notes that questions such as large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, by-catches, discards and other developments are raising universal concern.  China, as a developing country with a large population, has witnessed increasing domestic demand for fishery products.  Therefore, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the sustainable utilization of fishing resources.  The conservation and rational use of marine living resources and the sustainable development of fishery have been our basic policies for the development of fishery.   The Chinese government has taken a series of effective steps in the conservation and management of fishing resources, which have contributed to the conservation of fishing resources in areas of our national jurisdiction.  China supports greater efforts in fishing management on a fair and equitable basis in order to achieve sustainable development of fishery worldwide.

Mr. President, oceans, which take up 70% of the earth's surface, are closely linked to the survival and development of countries of the world, especially the coastal states.  In the context of further development of the economic globalization, it is crucial to enhance cooperation and coordination among countries and international organizations in dealing with ocean affairs.  The Chinese government is ready to act in the spirit of the Convention, honor the commitments it has entered into, and make unremitting efforts for the implementation of the Convention and the development of the law of the sea.

Thank you, Mr. President.
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