Vietnam Support Negotiations for Instrument to Regulate Maritime Issues

The marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) negotiation, discussing an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is one of the most important negotiation processes currently in the field of sea and ocean.
August 31, 2022 | 18:28

The fifth session of the intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) concluded on August 27 (Hanoi time) after two weeks of sitting.

Participants at the conference (Photo: baoquocte.vn).
Participants at the conference (Photo: baoquocte.vn).

The Vietnamese delegation, led by Ambassador Dang Hoang Giang, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, gave substantial proposals and contributions to the draft BBNJ instrument as well as the negotiations on issues that directly relate to Vietnam's rights and interests at sea.

The fifth session saw progress in all discussing issue groups, in which participants agreed to convene the next session as soon as possible. The negotiation hoped to finalize the document on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in seas beyond national jurisdiction.

The BBNJ negotiation, which officially started in April 2018, is one of the most important negotiation processes currently in the field of sea and ocean, in the context of the international community's efforts to implement the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development, especially the realization of Goal 14 (SDG 14) on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Also, the High Seas Biodiversity BBNJ Treaty can build on the vision of the Law of the Sea Convention to protect, conserve and restore marine life and sustainably and equitably use our shared ocean resources, while strengthening the existing governance framework for this vast global commons.

This instrument will be the third document on the implementation of UNCLOS besides the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement and the Agreement on Implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS in 1994. The BBNJ negotiation also plays an important role in strengthening the UNCLOS-based system in the governance of seas and oceans, ensuring sustainable development for all countries and future generations. In 2021, Vietnam was one of the 12 countries founding the Groups of Friends on UNCLOS, with commitments to complying with and promoting the convention, the UN Charter and international law, reported from the Communist Party of Vietnam Newspaper.

Promoting maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia

Regarding promoting maritime cooperation, on June 29, the 8th Ocean Dialogue took place in Hanoi on June 29 under the theme “40th Anniversary of UNCLOS: Promoting maritime cooperation in Southeast Asia”, drawing more than 150 direct and 100 online participants, including 15 speakers from 14 countries and territories, and representatives from the UN.

Professor Dr. Rüdiger Wolfrum, former Judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea,
Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Wolfrum, former Judge at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (left) and Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Hieu (middle) at the conference (Photo: baoquocte.vn).

Addressing the conference, Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Hieu underlined that the passing of the 1982 UNCLOS was a historical milestone in the development of international law, becoming the first comprehensive legal framework and a “constitution” of the sea.

The convention has proved its universal values, he said, adding that to date, it continues to play a fundamental role in the development of international law of the sea, promoting peace, security, cooperation among nations, and the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, reported from VNA.

Hieu affirmed that over the past 40 years, the legal order set up following the UNCLOS has greatly contributed to maintaining peace and international stability. The peaceful settlement of disputes at sea in line with international law, therefore, has been promoted.

In the face of increasing maritime challenges, the international community should uphold the rule of law and comply in good faith with its legal obligations under the convention, especially in making claims and conducting legal proceedings at sea. States should promote cooperation at the international and regional levels for the conservation and sustainable use of seas and oceans, while ensuring freedom of navigation and lawful navigational activities, he stressed.

The Deputy Foreign Minister said he hopes the group will continue to enhance the awareness and knowledge of the convention, while sharing good practices in applying the convention in the delimitation of the sea, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the management of the oceans, thereby supporting the implementation of the convention and meeting the common interests of the international community.

Rüdiger Wolfrum, former Justice of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, underscored the important role of the convention to the development of international law and the promotion of peace, security, and cooperation among countries as well as the sustainable development of the sea and ocean.

He stressed that the UNCLOS should be applied comprehensively, not separately but linked with the dispute settlement mechanisms and all legal provisions of UNCLOS and international law, emphasising the need for the convention to be further improved to meet the requirements of the new situation in the coming time.

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