UNGA president calls for universal ratification of law of sea convention

UNGA president calls for universal ratification of law of sea convention

Vuk Jeremic. (AFP)

"I believe all nations can and should agree."
United Nations (ANTARA News/Xinhua-OANA) - The UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Vuk Jeremic on Monday marked the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by calling on all UN member states to ratify the treaty.

"UNCLOS, along with other international conventions, has become a critical element of the international legal framework which can guide our shared efforts to protect the world`s oceanic environment," Jeremic said in an address before the 193-nation UNGA.

According to him, the preamble to UNCLOS states the convention "will promote the peaceful uses of the seas and oceans, the equitable and efficient utilization of their resources, the conservation of their living resources, and the study, protection and preservation of the marine environment."

"It is a commendable goal to which I believe all nations can and should agree. In that regard, I encourage all member states that have not done so, to act in the service of mankind by signing and ratifying this seminal convention," he said.

UNCLOS governs all aspects of ocean space, including the delimitation of maritime boundaries, environmental regulations, scientific research, commerce and the settlement of international disputes involving marine issues.

Right now, 163 UN member states and the European Union were parties to the landmark measure, which was endorsed by the UNGA and opened for signature in 1982, but was not entered into force until 1994 when the 60th member state, Guyana, signed the treaty.

In his speech, the UNGA president noted that "the exploitation of the world`s oceans was one of the critical issues reviewed at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, earlier this year."

The Rio+20 outcome document reiterates the importance of UNCLOS, because it documented the importance of conserving and sustainable use of oceans and their resources.

In addition, Jeremic underlined that the world`s oceans play a key role in sustaining life on the planet, promoting the economic and social advancement of all peoples of the world.

For example, he said, marine renewable energies are an untapped potential in many regions of the world and can play a significant role in meeting sustainable development goals, enhancing energy security and creating jobs.

However, "mankind has put the oceans at risk of irreversible damage," said Jeremic. "Over fishing, pollution, climate change, ocean acidification, unsustainable coastal area development, and resource extraction have resulted in the loss of biodiversity and damage to habitats."

The president stressed that, now more than ever before, mankind needs to find a way to live in harmony with the natural world.

"We have a duty to protect the livelihoods of people who live from the sea but at the same time we need to improve its ecological health and protect its natural resources," he said.

"I strongly believe that nations should work together to achieve a more sustainable management of this precious resource and address the threats it is currently facing," Jeremic added.