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UN Secretary-General stresses importance of UNCLOS

UN Secretary-General stresses importance of UNCLOS


The adoption by most nations of the world of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 40 years ago, was a “vital step to bring governance and order” to the vast collective treasure that is the ocean, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

He made the remark while addressing a UN General Assembly meeting marking the 40th anniversary of the adoption of UNCLOS in New York on December 8.

“The ocean is life. The ocean is livelihoods and the ocean binds humanity together across history and cultures”, he noted, adding that the convention now is more relevant than ever as the ocean is in dire straits.

Guterres pointed out that around 35% of the world’s fisheries are being over-exploited, sea levels are rising as the climate crisis continues, and the ocean is acidifying and choked with pollution. Coral reefs are bleaching, “epic floods” threaten coastal cities everywhere, and too often, “people working in ocean-based industries are not accessing the support or safe working conditions they need and deserve.”

Greater ambition is needed, he told the meeting, and the anniversary should be “an important reminder to continue using this critical instrument to tackle today’s challenges.”

The UN chief said the recently adopted Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies needed to be adopted swiftly, ensuring that all policies towards the ocean are “underpinned by the best science, and the best economic and social expertise.”

UNCLOS was adopted by 107 parties, including Vietnam, on December 10, 1982. It officially entered into force on November 16, 1994 and became one of the most important international agreements in the 20th century. It has been ratified by 168 parties so far./.