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Statement by Ambassador Dai Bing at the High-Level Commemorative Meeting of the United Nations General Assembly to Mark the 40th Anniversary of the Adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

2022-04-29 10:13

Mr. President,

Thank you for presiding over today’s meeting. I welcome Under-Secretary-General Miguel de Serpa Soares for his opening remarks.

The third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea held from 1973 to 1982 was a successful practice of multilateralism, which culminated in the important achievement of concluding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), providing critical legal norms for the global ocean governance. Throughout the negotiation process, China actively practiced multilateralism, promoted the spirit of international rule of law, and worked with other developing countries to promote the establishment of important principles and regimes of the law of the sea, such as the common heritage of mankind, thus making important contributions to the final adoption of UNCLOS.

As a State Party to UNCLOS, China has resolutely safeguarded the integrity and sanctity of the Convention, and consistently committed itself to abiding by the international law of the sea, including UNCLOS. China has fully participated in the ocean governance mechanisms under the framework of both UNCLOS and the United Nations. China has been deeply involved in major international legislative processes like the negotiations towards an international instrument on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction and the development of Regulations for the Exploitation of Mineral Resources in the Area, thus playing an active role in the making of modern maritime order. China has also actively supported the work of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the International Seabed Authority (ISA), and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). China regularly makes contributions to the trust funds of the CLCS and ISA, and helped developing countries better participate in the global ocean affairs.

Mr. President,

At this commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the adoption of UNCLOS, all parties should have a more objective, historical and dialectical understanding of the status and role of the Convention. A more complete, accurate, and good-faith interpretation and application of UNCLOS should be upheld. The Convention is an important part of the modern law of the sea, but not the whole of it. The Preamble to UNCLOS clearly states that matters not regulated by the Convention continue to be governed by the rules and principles of general international law. The customary international law formed in the long-term practice, as well as the rules and norms issued by international ocean-related institutions also provide important legal norms for the global ocean governance. The international judicial or arbitral institutions established under UNCLOS should strictly adhere to the principle of state consent, and show full respect for the right of States Parties to settle disputes between them by any means of their own choice. The CLCS should perform its functions in strict accordance with its rules of procedure, in particular the rule that any submission that involves an unresolved dispute shall not be considered. It should continue to exercise prudence when handling those submissions on the outer limits of the extended continental shelf that involve a land or maritime dispute. As for the exploitation of mineral resources, all parties should objectively assess the prospects for deep-sea exploitation and the impact of the pandemic, and advance the work of the ISA in a pragmatic, prudent and gradual manner.

Mr President,

China is ready to work with all parties to continue to uphold the spirit of the Convention, defend the international maritime order based on international law, build consensus on ocean governance, jointly promote the blue economy, build a maritime community with a shared future, facilitate global economic recovery, together construct marine ecological civilization, and achieve the goals of marine sustainable development.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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