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ARF workshop highlights significance of 1982 UNCLOS

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Quang Hieu has described the 1982 UNCLOS as a “Constitution” of the ocean, as it has created a legal framework for the settlement of maritime challenges in the region, including emerging ones.

Speaking at the third ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) workshop on implementing UNCLOS and other international instruments to address emerging maritime issues on June 1, the official stressed that all disputes in the East Sea must be addressed by peaceful measures in accordance with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982 UNCLOS).

Cooperation with goodwill and on the basis of the convention would contribute to enhancing trust between parties and promoting peace, security and prosperity in the region, he continued.

The event was jointly held by the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Indian, Australian, and Canadian counterparts, and the EU.

The two-day workshop, in both online and in-person forms, formed part of activities implementing the Hanoi Plan of Action II for the 2020-2025 period, and the ARF Ministerial Statement on Enhancing Cooperation among Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies, initiated by Vietnam and adopted in 2016.

It brought together about 200 delegates from 27 ARF countries, and representatives from regional and international organisations, diplomatic missions, ministries and agencies. 

The participants mulled over cooperation orientations to address challenges to maritime management in the region, on the basis of the UNCLOS and relevant international documents.

As co-chairs of the workshop, the Canadian and Australian ambassadors to Vietnam also shared the view on the role and value of the convention.

Canadian Ambassador Deborah Paul expressed support for efforts by countries in managing and handling disputes by peaceful measures and in line with international law.

The delegates called on countries to join hands in protecting the marine environment and life, managing fisheries sustainably as well as in search and rescue operations.

In the present context, it is necessary to study the possibility of a regional document on humanitarian treatment towards fishermen in accordance with international law and regional characteristics, the workshop heard.

They are expected to look at cooperation in preventing the degradation of the marine environment and biodiversity, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and plastic waste at sea on June 2.

Enhancing collaboration in ensuring navigation security and safety in the region, including cooperation between law enforcement forces at sea, will also be tabled for discussion on the day./