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Permanent Mission of China to the UN held a webinar on the theme of “Promoting the Sustainable Development: A Perspective from the Modern Law of the Sea”

2022-07-16 18:30

On July 15, the Permanent Missions of China, El Salvador, Fiji, Pakistan and South Africa to the United Nations co-hosted a webinar on the theme of “Promoting the Sustainable Development: A Perspective from the Modern Law of the Sea” on the margins of High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development 2022.

Ambassador Zhang Jun, Permanent Representative of China to the UN, chaired the webinar. UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority Mr. Michael Lodge and UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean Mr. Peter Thomson delivered keynote speeches. Experts and scholars of maritime and developmental fields from Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, and America made panel presentations to share their views on the law of the sea and sustainable development. Representatives from Russia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Nicaragua, and other countries made interventions in the interactive dialogues. Participants had actively exchanges of views in a lively atmosphere.

In Ambassador Zhang’s remarks, he pointed out that at present, global ocean governance is facing various challenges such as environmental pollution, climate change, and sea level rise. All these cannot be solved by any country on its own, but need to be tackled by the international community as a whole. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “the blue planet humans inhabit is not divided into islands by the oceans, but is connected by the oceans to form a community with a shared future”. We should jointly champion multilateralism, defend the international system centered around the UN, maintain the maritime order based on international law, and promote the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Ambassador Zhang said that sustainable development requires advocating international cooperation. Last September, President Xi Jinping proposed the Global Development Initiative (GDI) at the UN General Assembly, offering China’s wisdom and solutions to promote the international community’s focus on development, create synergies, and accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Maritime connectivity and cooperation in various fields are important drivers for economic and social development, as well as a focus point for the GDI implementation. China will work with all parties to jointly address maritime challenges, share the fruits of maritime development, and promote a more robust, greener, and healthier global development.

Ambassador Zhang stressed that sustainable development requires building political consensus. In June this year, President Xi Jinping chaired the High-level Dialogue on Global Development, where he joined leaders of relevant emerging markets and developing countries to discuss global development issues. They reached important consensus, and issued a list containing 32 deliverables. China will work with its partners to actively implement these important outcomes. All these efforts will inject “blue energy” into the post-pandemic economic recovery and contribute to the promotion of global common development.

Ambassador Zhang said that sustainable development requires strengthening the rule of law for the oceans. The modern law of the sea is an open and inclusive system consisting of UNCLOS, other sea-related international legal instruments, and customary international law. They provide important legal norms for global ocean governance, and here also enriched the legal framework for sustainable development. We need to view the status and role of UNCLOS in an objective and historical perspective, and accurately interpret and apply UNCLOS in good faith.

Participants spoke highly of the GDI proposed by President Xi Jinping and commended the initiative for being in line with the trend of the times, meeting the needs of all parties, and playing an important role in promoting sustainable development in various fields, including the oceans. Ambassador Joyini, Permanent Representative of South Africa, said that the GDI provides a broad space for the sustainable use of the oceans and lays a good foundation for promoting the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Ambassador Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan, said that the GDI provides an important platform for implementing the 2030 Agenda and that Pakistan will continue to participate constructively in the Group of Friends of the Initiative and work with all parties to promote the common aspiration of a peaceful, prosperous and shared future for humankind. UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Ocean Affairs Thomson said that it could not be more timely for President Xi Jinping to propose the GDI, and it is conducive to building consensus, integrating resources and fostering development cooperation. Ambassador Pieris, Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, emphasized that the GDI would further energize global development and meet the expectations of all member states, particularly developing countries. Representatives from Russia, Iran and Nicaragua also affirmed the significance of the GDI in strengthening political will, narrowing the gap between the North and the South, and expanding cooperation space.

Participants shared the view that UNCLOS is important for promoting the rule of law in the ocean, improving global ocean governance, and achieving sustainable development. Many delegates also emphasized that the modern law of the sea is not limited to UNCLOS, but is an open and inclusive system. UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Mr. Serpa Soares emphasized that UNCLOS is one of the most significant achievements of international lawmaking and multilateralism, which contributes to the promotion of economic and social advancement and provides strong support for the achievement of SDG 14. The Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority Mr. Lodge said that UNCLOS has made a significant contribution to maintaining peace and promoting the rule of law in the ocean, especially by building a comprehensive legal regime to achieve the sustainable use of marine mineral resources. Ambassador Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan, said that the international legal regime governing all activities in the oceans and seas consists of several global, regional and bilateral legal instruments besides customary international law. Ambassador Prasad, Permanent Representative of Fiji, noted that we have a firm foundation in UNCLOS and all the subsidiary legal frameworks that are falling into place. Ambassador López, Permanent Representative of El Salvador, emphasized that different international legal instruments, principles of international law, and customary international law are needed to address new challenges such as global warming and ship pollution.

In the interactive session, participants had in-depth discussions on how to view the development of the modern law of the sea and how to promote the implementation of SDGs through continuous improvement of the modern law of the sea. In the presentations, Professor David Freestone from George Washington University Law School, Ms. Zhang Haiwen, Director-General of China Institute for Marine Affairs, Professor Vasco Becker-Weinberg, President of the Portuguese Institute for the Law of the Sea, Mr. Sun Ruijun, Senior Engineer of National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center of China, and Adv. Thembile Joyini, Principal State Law Adviser of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa, pointed out that sea level rise, emerging marine pollution, and climate change are new challenges in the ocean which cannot be solved solely through UNCLOS. The international community should make joint efforts for the progressive development of the modern law of sea and the achievement of SDGs.

Participants also affirmed the positive significance of this webinar co-hosted by China and other co-organizers, and expressed their willingness to deepen cooperation on strengthening global ocean governance and accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

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