Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Aotearoa New Zealand is pleased to co-sponsor the General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea, and sustainable fisheries. We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to the coordinators, Ms Natalie Morris Sharma, and Mr Andreas Kravik, for their hard work. We also thank the Division for Oceans Affairs and the Law of the Sea for their ongoing support.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is a key pillar of the international rules-based system. New Zealand welcomes that the resolution on oceans and the law of the sea reaffirms the Convention as the definitive legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. We also welcome the acknowledgement of the Convention’s universal and unified character.
As an island state with a large maritime zone, compliance with the obligations, and enjoyment of the rights, contained in the Convention is of vital importance to the security, prosperity and sustainability of New Zealand and our Pacific partners. We are proud to be a founding member of the recently established Group of Friends of the Convention.
The Convention provides rules for the protection and preservation of the marine environment and for the sustainable use of marine resources. It sets out the legal framework for the establishment of maritime zones and the rules of freedom of navigation and overflight. And it provides for the peaceful settlement of disputes. Observance of these rules are critical to the maintenance of the international rules-based system; ocean health; regional peace and stability; and continued unimpeded access to shipping and air routes for our trade. The Convention applies across the world’s oceans and seas, including in the South China Sea, and is the only framework within which competing maritime claims in that region, alongside others, should be addressed and disputes resolved.
New Zealand welcomes the ongoing work of the International Seabed Authority in developing a regulatory framework to govern seabed mining in the Area. We are actively engaged in the development of this framework. Along with other states, we seek a regulatory regime that ensures that deep-sea mining cannot proceed unless the marine environment is effectively protected. The effective protection of the marine environment in accordance with article 145 of the Convention must be our collective bottom line in the upcoming negotiations on the Mining Code.
New Zealand also reiterates the importance of making progress on the draft treaty under the Convention, on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. We are grateful for the leadership demonstrated by the President of the Intergovernmental Conference, Ambassador Rena Lee from Singapore, in maintaining momentum through intersessional dialogues, and we look forward to the convening of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Conference at the earliest convenience.
Sea-level rise and climate change pose grave threats to small island developing states and low lying communities around the world, especially in our Pacific region. As signatories to the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders’ Declaration on Preserving Maritime Zones in the Face of Climate Change-Related Sea-Level Rise, we align ourselves to the statement on this matter delivered by Fiji today on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.
New Zealand is committed to working with the international community to ensure that the maritime rights and entitlements that many states rely on are preserved, consistent with the principles of equity, certainty and stability that underpin the Convention. Our consideration of this issue is guided both by the need to preserve the balance of rights and responsibilities agreed in the Convention, and the critical importance of upholding its integrity and primacy.
Thank you Mr President.