IORA Capacity Building Workshop on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
29 January 2020
- Your Excellency, Ambassador Raghavan, Director General of the Indian Council of World Affairs,
- Das, Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India,
- Distinguished Senior Officials of all IORA Member States, Experts and Participants,
- Good Morning from Mauritius,
- May I welcome you all to this virtual Workshop being held today on the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
- May I on behalf of the IORA Secretariat, express sincere gratitude, and appreciation to the Ministry of External Affairs of the Republic of India, for hosting this Virtual Workshop, along with the Indian Council of World Affairs for the excellent virtual arrangements.
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Covering a vast maritime zone of nearly 68.56 million sq. km. and incorporating coastal states from South Africa in the west, running up the eastern coast of Africa, along the Gulf to South and Southeast Asia, reaching Australia in the east, IORA serves as the ‘first line of defence’ to build upon existing national, regional, and international measures, thereby enhancing coordination and supporting harmonised international Maritime Safety and Security collaboration.
- The Indian Ocean region faces many traditional and non-traditional safety and security challenges including piracy, armed robberies at sea, terrorism, human trafficking, irregular movement of persons, drugs trafficking, illicit trafficking in wildlife, trafficking of weapons, crimes in the fisheries sector such as IUU fishing, degradation of ocean health, unlawful exploitation of marine resources and climate change with its related repercussions on environmental security.
- Recognising that a safe and secure Indian Ocean is important for socio economic development, IORA assigned MSS in 2011 as the top priority area of focus.
- The geo-strategic importance and profile of the Indian Ocean region is growing rapidly, with an unprecedented focus and attention on the potential contribution that the region can and should be making towards global security, economic growth, and sustainable development. We consider IORA as the pre-eminent regional organisation within which to pursue this ambitious goal.
- In August 2019, Sri Lanka, as the current Lead Coordinator for IORA’s priority area of MSS, held the First Meeting of the IORA Maritime Safety and Security Working Group, also know as the WGMSS, which finalized the regional Work Plan drawn up for a period of two years (2019 – 2021). This meeting provided an opportunity for Member States to discuss the way forward and to initiate concrete actions in the sphere of MSS.
- In continuation of the WGMSS Work Plan and the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue held in 2019 in New Delhi, India – Both outcome documents from the two Meetings highlighted the importance to pursue cooperation and mitigate challenges in the Indian Ocean based on the universally recognised principles of international law including those under the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 UNCLOS.
Ladies and Gentlemen
- Today’s Workshop is timely, especially with the ongoing challenges we face throughout the world. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea - is a critical part of the rules-based international system. Its provisions apply to 70% of the surface of the globe and form an essential component of global governance.
- UNCLOS sets out the legal framework for maritime claims and the rules of freedom of navigation. It also sets out obligations for bilateral, regional and international co-operation, including for the conservation and management of living resources, for the protection and preservation of the marine environment, and for the peaceful settlement of disputes. This legal framework applies across the world’s ocean and seas, and offers a valuable means for dispute resolution.
- I am looking forward to this dynamic Workshop today, with insights from renowned and experienced speakers from across our region. We look forward to the Workshop Sessions on:
- UNCLOS and Dispute Resolution;
- Issues of Freedom of Navigation;
- Sustainable Fisheries Development and IUU Fishing; and
- The Protection of the Marine Environment and Issues of Marine Scientific Research.
Distinguished , Ladies and Gentleman
- IORA remains committed to work together with its 23 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners to build back better resilient communities and, to secure the Indian Ocean region, as a region for peace, stability, and prosperity.
As the pioneering Father, Late President Nelson Mandela, of IORA once said, and I quote - “It always seems impossible until it's done.”
I am confident that this virtual Workshop on the 1982 UNCLOS will provide momentum and pave the way ahead for us to promote the sustained growth and balanced development for Indian Ocean Region, together.
We look forward to the presentations and discussions, as well as the interventions from participants during the question-and-answer sessions.
Thank you for your participation.