Thank you, Mr. President. On behalf of the Host Country, I have the honor to help commemorate the 30th anniversary of the opening for signature of the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.
The Law of the Sea Convention sets forth a comprehensive legal framework governing uses of the oceans. The world has benefitted greatly from the adoption and entry into force of this Convention. And the United States continues to support the balance of interests reflected in this remarkable agreement.
It is worth recalling time before the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, where there were some fundamental questions about States’ rights and obligations with respect to the oceans. The Law of the Sea Convention resolved those questions. For example, it established for the first time a maximum breadth of the territorial sea.
In addition, it provided for exclusive jurisdiction of coastal States over economic activities out to 200 miles from shore. And it set forth a procedure to maximize legal certainty regarding the extent of the continental shelf.
The Law of the Sea Convention, together with the 1994 Agreement relating to deep seabed mining and 1995 Agreement relating to fish stocks, provides public order in the world’s oceans. It codifies critical freedom of navigation provisions, including those related to transit and innocent passage, which enable vessels to transit the entire maritime domain, thus ensuring the mobility on which our international trade and global economy depend. It is the foundation on which rules for sustainable international fisheries are based. And it provides the legal framework for exploring and exploiting mineral resources on and beneath the seabed beyond areas of national jurisdiction.
Today, the Convention’s institutions are up and running.
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has received over 60 submissions and is making significant progress in providing recommendations to coastal States. The International Seabed Authority has developed regulations on deep seabed mineral exploration and has issued contracts for such exploration. The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea serves as an important forum for the peaceful resolution of disputes.
Of course, we continue to face many challenges in and on the oceans, including those related to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, destructive fishing practices, pollution, acidification, conservation and sustainable use of maritime resources, and maritime security. But we are confident that these challenges can and will be addressed on the basis of the Convention’s framework.
Mr. President, I wish to reaffirm President Obama’s strong support for U.S. accession to the Law of the Sea Convention, and confirm that Secretary Clinton has made this treaty a priority.
We continue to regard much of the Convention as reflective of customary international law, but fully recognize the security and economic benefits of becoming a party.
In closing, it gives us great pleasure to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Law of the Sea Convention – an historic event in international maritime law.
Thank you, Mr. President
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