Statement by the Pacific Forum at the United Nations high-level event marking 40 years of UNCLOS

76TH UNGA HIGH-LEVEL COMMEMORATIVE EVENT TO MARK THE 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ADOPTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA

Address by HE Samuelu Laloniu
Permanent Representative of Tuvalu to the United Nations
on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum

Friday, April 29, 2022, 10 a.m. (NYT)

(Cheers)
1. It is a great honor for me on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum to deliver this statement on this special occasion marking the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea We celebrate UNCLOS and its vital role in shaping and securing our global community.
and indeed, our Blue Pacific.
2. Excellencies, the law of the sea has been at the forefront of the Forum’s agenda since its inception more than 50 years ago. However, our intrinsic ties to the ocean span millennia, delicately woven through a peaceful tapestry of cultures, shared connections and stewardship.
3. As custodians of much of the ocean through which we live and breathe, we are proud and ardent supporters of UNCLOS as the legal order for the world’s oceans and seas. As reaffirmed by the General Assembly in its annual resolution on UNCLOS, the Convention provides the legal framework
framework within which all activities in the ocean and seas must be carried out. Indeed, it is the Constitution of the Oceans, which promotes peace and cooperation and supports the peaceful resolution of disputes and the rule of law.
4. Applying directly to and regulating 70% of the Earth’s surface, but with rights, entitlements and responsibilities for the international community, UNCLOS is the backbone that maintains legal certainty, stability, security and predictability for our island nations.
5. It protects our political and development aspirations and provides the model of rights and prerogatives essential to the building of our nation, our development aspirations and the survival of our people.
6. Today, we recall the historic negotiation of a global treaty on the law of the sea, dating back to 1958. Its adoption 24 years later was a giant step for the entire international community, representing the one of the world’s most comprehensive and successful diplomatic agreements. 20th century attempts.
7. To this end, I wish to pay tribute to the vision and courage of the founding leaders of the Forum – the Cook Islands, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga, Australia and New Zealand – who made the law of the sea a priority key since their very first meeting in August 1971.
8. In the decade that followed, the centrality of the law of the sea to the Forum was articulated in its first two declarations issued in 1976 and 1977. Key decisions include agreement to establish fishing zones or economic 200 miles as quickly as possible to secure the benefits of their resources for their peoples.
9. In 1979, the Forum concluded a legally binding international treaty to establish a regional fisheries agency to support the sovereign rights of our coastal States to conserve and manage living resources, including highly migratory species, within their area of 200 miles.
10. The Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency was established with the aim of enabling our people to enjoy the highest levels of social and economic benefits through the sustainable use of our high seas fisheries resources. Pacific countries have since benefited from the sustainable use of tuna, which is worth more
$3 billion a year and important to the livelihoods of many people in the Pacific.
11. Ladies and Gentlemen, I highlight this important story to demonstrate our longstanding support for the Law of the Sea. UNCLOS has continued to shape our vision and goals for the region, including through the Nuclear Free Zone Treaty of the 1985 South Pacific, the 2010 Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape, the Blue Pacific Story and the Blue Pacific Strategy 2050 that Pacific leaders will consider. This year.
12. Ladies and Gentlemen, we welcome the universal acceptance and unified nature of UNCLOS, with 168 States Parties to date.
13. Significantly, through UNCLOS, the Blue Pacific enjoys our status as large ocean states covering territories with a combined EEZ size of nearly 40 million square kilometers, which is more than the combined size from Russia, China, the United States and the EU. .
14. This has created significant opportunities for economic, social, cultural and sustainable development. From territorial waters and exclusive economic zones to extended areas of the continental shelf, these areas reflect and determine the sovereignty, sovereign rights, rights and responsibilities of a state under
UNCLOS.
15. Excellencies, these rights and sovereign rights – and indeed, our ocean – are under serious threat.
16. Our leaders recognize that climate change is the greatest threat to the livelihoods and well-being of Pacific Island peoples. Securing our maritime areas and the rights therein against the threats of sea level rise linked to climate change is therefore today a major priority for our region.
17. Guided by UNCLOS, Forum Leaders released on 6 August 2021 the Declaration on Preserving Maritime Areas in the Face of Climate Change-Related Sea Level Rise.
18. The Declaration proudly recalls our long history of support for the law of the sea, emphasizing that coastal States, in particular small island developing States and low-lying States which are particularly affected by rising sea levels sea ​​and climate change, have planned their development on the basis of the rights to their maritime areas guaranteed by the Convention.
19. The Leaders proclaimed that our maritime zones, as established and notified to the Secretary-General of the United Nations pursuant to the Convention, and the rights and privileges thereunder, shall continue to apply, without reduction, notwithstanding any physical modification linked to sea level rise linked to climate change.
20. Excellencies, we continue to offer our Declaration as a thoughtful, moderate and targeted solution to this global problem, and I take this opportunity to call once again on all States Parties to UNCLOS to join us in adopting strategies similar regional and national ones. practices.
21. Excellencies, we further stress the importance of strengthening ocean governance both within and beyond the national jurisdictions of countries, in order to ensure comprehensive and sustainable management of the ocean.
22. The Pacific looks forward to the early finalization this year and subsequent adoption of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the areas beyond national jurisdictions, which establishes a solid and ambitious framework to conserve and sustainably use our marine biodiversity.
23. Following the recent success of the 7th Our Ocean Conference in Palau, we welcome commitments of up to US$16.35 billion for concrete actions to protect ocean health and safety. We look forward to the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, as well as promoting the ocean-climate nexus through the UNFCCC. We also welcome the launch of an intergovernmental negotiating committee for an international legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. UNCLOS, including its provisions on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, is a rich source of information
guidance on implementing these commitments and advancing these discussions and negotiations through their respective processes.
24. Excellencies, the Pacific Islands Forum commends the work of the International Seabed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the three bodies established by the Convention.
25. We also express our gratitude to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for his annual reports on oceans and the law of the sea and for the high level of support provided by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea to the work of the Meeting of States Parties and Continental Boundaries Commission
Shelf.
26. Finally, we take this opportunity to invite States that have not yet done so to become States parties to the Convention and to the Agreement relating to the implementation of part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Right of the sea of ​​December 10, 1982. .

I thank you

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