United Nations General Assembly: Informal meeting of the plenary to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea - CANZ statement

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr. President, 

I have the honour to speak on behalf of Australia, Canada, and my own country New Zealand on the occasion of this high-level commemorative event to mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. On this momentous occasion, we would like to highlight the vital role and longstanding contributions of the Convention within the framework of international law.

International law, particularly as reflected in the Convention, sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the ocean and seas must be carried out.  Since it came into force, the Convention has been the legal blueprint for establishing all maritime zones, maintaining maritime peace and security, protecting and preserving of our oceans, supporting sustainable development of marine resources, encouraging marine scientific research, and promoting international cooperation.

Now more than ever, the Convention upholds the values of the UN Charter, and underscores the importance of States settling disputes peacefully, including adhering to binding and final decisions of international courts and tribunals.

The Convention remains as relevant as ever in a world where we are now facing an increasing number of global oceans-related challenges, including the adverse impacts of climate change such as acidification, sea-level rise, recess of sea ice and the opening of the Arctic Ocean; marine pollution including plastics; eutrophication; maritime security; increased tensions over disputes; IUU fishing; and overexploitation of natural resources. We look forward to continuing to uphold the Convention’s significance and building upon its strong legal foundation.

We remain committed to the important work of the three bodies established under the Convention: The International Seabed Authority, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. We aim to conclude the negotiation of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) in 2022.

The Convention is a critical instrument in maintaining and strengthening a rules-based international order in the maritime domain. We must continue to work, both domestically and internationally, towards the full and effective implementation of the Convention, and we must further our commitment to dialogue and partnership in addressing oceans-related challenges.

Thank you.


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