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Statement by H.E. Ambassador LIU Zhenmin, Head of the Chinese Delegation, on agenda item 4 "Adoption of agenda", at the 19th Meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS

2009-06-22 18:30

22 June 2009

Mr. President,

The Chinese Delegation would like to congratulate you on your election as President of the 19th Meeting of State Parties. We are confident that, under your able guidance, this meeting will be of great success.

Mr. President, I have the honor to introduce the proposal by China, Côte d'lvoire and Pakistan to include a supplementary item in the agenda of the present meeting. The proposal for a supplementary item and the explanatory note can be found in document SPLOS/196 and SPLOS/L.60.

Mr. President, delimiting outer limits of continental shelf is, in the mean time, defining the scope of the International Seabed Area. The relationship between continental shelf and the International Seabed Area is a general issue involving the overall interests of mankind, which is of great importance to the international community. Relevant organizations and all the State Parties should take care of it seriously.

Article 121(3) of the LTNCLOS stipulates clearly that, rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf. Whether this stipulation can be implemented strictly will have great influence on the scope of the International Seabed Area. At the 15th session of the International Seabed Authority took place last month, a number of States expressed their deep concern on the possible encroachment on the common heritage of mankind by claims of extended continental shelf using rocks as base point.

Last May is the deadline for the submission of applications concerning outer limits of continental shelf. The Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf will continue its examination of submissions by the state parties. We believe that, as a preventive measure, it will greatly facilitate the work of the Commission if the Meeting of States Parties could send a clear message to the international community regarding the possible impacts of implementation of Article 121 of UNCLOS.

The provision of Article 121 is clear and definitive. The islands regime established under Article 121 should be fully respected and complied with as a whole. This Meeting of States Parties provides an good opportunity to have a thorough discussion of the relationship between outer limits of continental shelf and International Seabed Area, in the spirit of ensuring comprehensive implementation of the Convention and safeguarding the legitimate interests of both coastal States and the international community, so as to facilitate the Commission to duly fulfill its responsibilities under the Convention.

It is for these reasons that China, Côte d'lvoire and Pakistan have proposed to include a supplementary item, namely "International Seabed Area as the common heritage of mankind and Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea" in the agenda. The purpose is to echo the needs of the Commission, to exchange views among States Parties and to explore possible solutions to this general issue. This proposal is not targeted at any specific submission to the Commission, nor is it aiming at interpreting or amending the Convention. It is not our intention to keep this item permanent in the agenda. What we are concerned is the implementation of Article 121 of the Convention. We would highly appreciate it if all States Parties support this proposal.

Thank you, Mr. President.



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