|Statement by H.E. Ambassador ZHANG Yishan, Deputy Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, at the Plenary of the 60th Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 75: Oceans and the Law of the Sea|
New York, 28 November 2005
Maintaining and strengthening international order for the oceans and seas and promoting ocean-related activities of mankind contribute towards the realization of the purposes of “peace and security” laid down in the UN Charter, the strengthening of cooperation and friendly relations among all countries based on “fairness and justice”, and global economic growth and social harmony. Endeavors in this regard are in keeping with the trend of our times towards the goal of “peace, cooperation and development”. We hope that the consideration of the agenda item on oceans and the law of the sea at this session of the GA will make a further contribution to the attainment of this goal.
Mr. President, the Chinese delegation believes that the legal regime set out in the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea remains the legal basis for contemporary international order for the oceans. We are pleased to note that the number of state parties to the Convention has increased to 149, signaling the continuous growth of the universality of the Convention. We hope to see more states accede to the Convention.
At present, in international ocean affairs, three issues stand out: first, further implementation of provisions of the Convention pertaining to the protection and conservation of marine environment, research in marine science, and the development and transfer of marine technologies; second, building up the capacity of developing countries so as to enable them to utilize more effectively marine resources and make greater contributions to international ocean affairs; third, full use of existing relevant international organizations and mechanisms, and strengthening cooperation and coordination among them.
Issues concerning the oceans are closely interlinked and need to be addressed in an integrated and holistic manner. The United Nations is the most appropriate and authoritative forum for dealing with these issues, which are of common concern for all countries. We support the “open-ended informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea” (ICP) set up by GA resolution 54/33 and extended by resolution 57/141. In the past six years, this process has served as an important forum where all states, including non-parties to the Convention, discuss issues about oceans and the law of the sea and coordinate their positions. It has therefore contributed positively to the deliberations of the GA. Experience shows that the principles set out in GA resolution 54/33 for the process have been critical in pooling the wisdom of all participants and in advancing the consideration of agenda items. We support the extension of the process based on existing principles for another three years and agree to the necessary improvement of its working methods in order to enhance efficiency.
Mr. President, protection of marine environment calls for urgent action. The Chinese government attaches great importance to the protection of marine environment and the promotion of sustainable development. It took an active part in the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development and supports the early establishment of the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects (GMA) within the UN framework while making full use of existing regional assessment mechanisms. We welcome the outcome of the second international workshop on GMA held this June and hope to see the “Assessment of Assessments” begin at an early date on that basis, so that the process can be launched soon. China is willing and ready to participate directly in the relevant work and contribute to the GMA process.
With regard to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, the Chinese delegation welcomes the establishment by GA resolution 59/24 of an ad hoc open-ended informal working group. We believe that the protection of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction should take full account of existing regimes concerning the high seas and international seabed, and give full play to the role of existing international organizations and institutions. This is very important work and China will actively take part in it.
Mr. President, the review conference of the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement will be held next year to evaluate the effectiveness of the Agreement in the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. Pursuant to article 36 of the Agreement, the Secretary-General will, at that time, invite to the conference all state parties to the Agreement, states and entities entitled to become parties, as well as inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations entitled to participate as observers to the conference. The Chinese delegation will seriously prepare for and actively participate in the review conference as well as its preparatory meeting and will play a constructive role. The Chinese government believes that the entry into force of the 1995 Agreement is conducive to uniforming and regulating fishing conduct on the high seas. The key to the implementation of the Agreement lies at the regional level. Regional fishery management organizations and arrangements should continue to play a significant role, act according to their respective circumstances, and formulate and implement fishery related conservation and management measures on the basis of full consultations.
China is one of the developing countries that have the largest number of fishermen and fishing fleets. Fishery is of vital importance to food security, social stability and poverty reduction in China. For the past decade or so, China, as a responsible fishing state, has done a lot to strengthen the conservation and management of fishery resources and has curbed its harvesting and needs as much as possible in the interest of sustainable development of global fishery.
The Chinese delegation holds that when considering fishery issues, the international community should aim at regulating conduct and achieving sustainable development. For that purpose, we need to achieve the appropriate balance of the following relationships: first, that between fishery production and the conservation of fishery resources; secondly, that between the conservation of fishery resources and the protection of marine environment; thirdly, that between the needs of this generation and those of future generations; fourthly, that between coastal fishery and high seas fishery; and fifthly, that between the practice of “first come first served” and the need to ensure the right of all countries, particularly developing countries, to share fishery resources.
Mr. President, in the view of the Chinese delegation, building the marine capacity of the developing countries is a big issue confronting the international community. For many developing countries, it is extremely important and urgent to build up capacity in nautical charts production, ship building, protection of marine environment, marine science research and development, law enforcement at sea, and combating maritime crimes. In order to enhance the capacity of the developing countries in marine conservation and management, the developed countries should actively facilitate the transfer of marine technologies to the developing countries under fair and reasonable conditions and the relevant international organizations should provide help to the developing countries in carrying out regional or multilateral cooperation, in securing appropriate international funding for marine research and development and in personnel training. The Chinese government and people have accumulated some successful experience in marine capacity building, which we are more than willing to share with other developing countries.
Mr. President, since ancient times, the oceans and the seas have confronted the human race with numerous difficulties and challenges, while endowing it with bountiful harvests and well being. We need sufficient courage to overcome the difficulties and challenges and sufficient wisdom to enjoy the harvests and well being. China is ready to join hands with other countries to uphold the spirit of the Convention, abide by international commitments, and work for the cause of ocean affairs as well as peace, justice, harmony and progress of mankind.
Thank you, Mr. President.