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Statement by H.E. Ambassador WANG Guangya, Permanent Representative of China to the United Nations, at the Plenary of the 58th Session of the UN General Assembly, on Item 52: Oceans and the Law of the Sea
(24 November 2003)

2003/11/24

 

New York, 24 November 2003


Mr. President,

First of all, I would like to thank the Secretary-Generalfor his report on "Oceans and the Law of the Sea".This informative report provides us with a useful basis for our consideration of the agenda item.I also wish to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the President for his outstanding leadership and to the Secretariat for the hard work it has done.

Mr. President,to meetthe need of mankind to explore, utilize and protect oceans, theUnited Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)and the Agreement relating tothe Implementation of Part XI of the Conventioncontain provisions that cover all areas concerning ocean affairs, thus constituting a basic legal framework for human activities in that regard, and serving to establish an order for ocean affairs in the modern era.We are pleased to note that with ratification and accession from 143 countries, the Convention is gaining in universality.We welcome more countries to join the Convention.

The Chinese delegation is also gratified toseethe positive development in the work of the three international bodies established under the Convention.The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea has admitted 11 cases since its establishment in 1996, playing a positive role in the peaceful settlement of ocean disputes and in the interpretation and application of the Convention; the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has completed its preparations in reviewing coastal states' submissions regardingthe outerlimitsof the continental shelfbeyond 200 nautical miles and providing scientific and technological advisory opinions, and has already reviewed the first of such submissions, by the Russian Federation; the International Seabed Authority, having entered into contracts for the exploration of polymetallic nodules with 7 pioneer investors, is now engaged in developing new regulations for the prospecting and exploration of polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts, and has reinforced international seabed marine scientific research.We favour a greater role of the three bodies in facilitating the implementation of the Convention and maintaining international order in ocean affairs.

The Chinese government highly values the role of the Convention.In our view, discussions within the UN framework of matters related to the Convention are of critical importance.The setting up of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea(UNICPOLOS) reflects the international community's general concern over marine environmental protection, integrated management, sustainable utilization of marine resources, developing countries' ocean-related capacity building and other issues.The UNICPOLOS has become an important forum where questions concerning oceans and the law of the sea are discussed and coordinated among countries, including non-states partiesto the Convention.It facilitates the consideration by the GeneralAssemblyof the agenda item, and serves its intended purposes well.We welcome the decision made last year by the GeneralAssemblyto extend the Process for 3 years on the basis of the first phase.

At the 4th meeting of the UNICPOLOS last June, in-depth discussion was held on safety of navigation, protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, greater international cooperation and coordination over ocean affairs and other questions, and positive results were achieved.The Chinese government attaches great importance to the question of safety of navigation.It is of the view that the current focus should be toemphasizethe responsibility of flag states, and suggests that the GeneralAssemblyinvite the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), in cooperation and in consultation with relevant organizations and Programs within the UN system, to work out a "list" of obligations and responsibilities of flag states, and urge all countries to establish effective control of ships registered under their flags.With regard to the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, we believe it should be done within the framework of the UNCLOS and other relevant Conventions, with a balanced approach to protection and utilization, and adherence to the existingregimescovering high seas and the international seabed.To fill the vacuum left by the abolishment of the Sub-committee on Oceans and Coastal Areas (SOCA), we propose that the GeneralAssemblycreate an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency cooperation and coordination mechanism within the UN system.We also propose that the GeneralAssemblyrequest the SG to convene an intergovernmental meeting soon to discuss and develop an implementation plan relating to the mechanism of globalreportingand assessment of the state of themarine environment.

Mr. President, the Chinese delegation notes the entry into force in December 2001 of the 1995UNFish Stocks Agreement.While this, in our view, is conducive to the harmonization of regulations over fishing activities on high seas, the key of its enforcement is at the regional level.Membership in regional fisheries management mechanisms and participation in the formulation of management measures in that context will help eliminate differences among countries within a regional mechanism.At the same time, developing countries' difficulties and special needs in implementing the Agreement must be fully recognized.It is incumbent upon developed countries to provide developing countries with necessary assistance and facilities, with a view to enhancing their capacity toimplementthe Agreement and manage their fisheries.

The Chinese delegation notes that there is now extensive concern overlarge-scalepelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorised fishing inzone ofnational jurisdiction and onthehigh seas,fisheriesby-catch,and discardsand other developments.China is a populous developing country.Its demand for fishery products is increasing.Consequently, the Chinese government attaches great importance to the sustainability of fishery resources.China's basic policy for its fishery development is the maintenance of the sustainability of fishery through conservation and rational use of water-born living resources.In this regard, the Government has taken a series of conservation and management measures that have yielded results, thereby enhancing the conservation of fishery resources in the seas undernationaljurisdiction.China supportsthestrengtheningofthemanagementof fishery on a fair andequitablebasis,in order toachievesustainable developmentoffisheryworldwide.

Mr. President, the 21st century will be a century of the ocean.Along with the development of science and technology, progress in marine scientific research, the increase in mankind's need for marine resources, and the growth of marine environmental concerns, all countries will give more attention to the use and protection of marine resources, and will attach greater importance to the development of the law of the sea and maintaining and building an international order in ocean affairs.The Chinese government stands ready to make unremitting efforts tohonoritsinternational commitments in the spirit of the Convention and contribute to the implementation of the Convention, the development of the law of the sea, and the promotion of peace, justice and progress of mankind.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

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