Group of Friends: 1982 UNCLOS is Constitution for the Ocean

UNCLOS is a comprehensive document that regulates all activities on seas and oceans
June 17, 2022 | 07:31
Vietnamese Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang addresses the event.
Vietnamese Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang addresses the event.

Nearly 100 member states of the Group of Friends on the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) recently held a ceremony to mark 40 years since the adoption of the convention.

The event, organised at the headquarters of Vietnam’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, coincided with the group’s first anniversary (June 30) and the 32nd meeting of states parties to UNCLOS (SPLOS 32).

In his welcome speech, on behalf of the group’s 12 founding members, Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, said despite difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the group still maintained regular activities in flexible formats.

He thanked all the 115 member states for consistently supporting and actively taking part in common activities, affirming that the participation reflects their commitment to the group’s goal of upholding UNCLOS and international law.

Giang stressed his hope that amid many common maritime challenges facing the international community, the group will continue developing and contributing more to the world’s joint efforts in response to those challenges.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Miguel Soares speaks at the ceremony on June 14. (Photo: VNA
UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Miguel Soares speaks at the ceremony on June 14. Photo: VNA

UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel Miguel Soares affirmed that UNCLOS is a comprehensive document that regulates all activities on seas and oceans and is a framework for international, regional, and national cooperation in maritime issues.

He welcomed the group’s activities and expressed his hope that it will further bring into play its role at forums on maritime issues and help with ocean governance, the realisation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources, the maintenance of legal order for seas and oceans, and the peaceful settlement of disputes.

For her part, SPLOS 32 President Vanessa Frazier held that issues relevant to seas and oceans are attracting more attention from the international community.

Frazier said she hoped with a large number of members from their regions, the group will create an open and friendly forum for countries to discuss not only maritime issues but also others of common concern, thereby contributing to the full implementation of UNCLOS and SPLOS’s activities.

A group of friends is an informal and flexible form of coordination aiming to enhance cooperation among the countries sharing common concern about a particular issue to promote common goals.

ceremony on June 14 to mark 40 years since the adoption of the convention.
At the ceremony on June 14 to mark 40 years since the adoption of the convention.

The UNCLOS Group of Friends, an initiative by Vietnam and Germany, was launched at a New York event on June 30, 2021. It is an open and informal organisation gathering countries sharing same concerns over a certain issue. There are about 90 UN Groups of Friends in various areas at the UN.

Members of the Group of Friends on the UNCLOS come from all over the world, comprising five permanent UN Security Council member states and many nations in Asia Pacific, such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Bangladesh, Australia, and New Zealand.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 55th anniversary of Malta’s Ambassador Arvid Pardo’s statement to the UN General Assembly which marked the prelude to the setting up of the Convention and changed the way we view our ocean and our planet.

The convention has played and continues to play a fundamental role as the legal framework for the carrying out of any activity in the oceans and seas. The convention is far-reaching, covering many areas, including, and ranging from: navigational rights, economic rights, the conservation and management of living marine resources, the protection of the marine environment, as well as piracy – underpinning maritime security as a whole. It embodies our global goal for a healthy ocean as well as the values of the UN Charter.

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