IORA Capacity Building Workshop on the 1982 UNCLOS
29 January 2021
Dr. T.C.A. Raghavan, DG, ICWA
Ms. Riva Ganguly Das, Secretary (East), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India,
Ambassador Dr. Nomvuyo N. Nokwe, Secretary General, IORA,
Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen,
- Please allow me to extend to you all a very warm welcome to the “ IORA Capacity Building Workshop on the 1982 UNCLOS” being hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs of India in collaboration with the Indian Council of World Affairs and the IORA Secretariat. It is indeed a unique honour for us at the ICWA to conduct this virtual Workshop.
- Many of you may recall that ICWA and the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India hosted the 6th Indian Ocean Dialogue (IOD), a track 1.5 flagship initiative of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), at New Delhi on 13 December 2019.
- The Delhi Consensus, the outcome document of the Sixth Indian Ocean Dialogue, identified a number of issues for cooperation. The participants agreed on the need to build technical expertise which would strengthen maritime capacity building and lead to developmental cooperation for building a safe, secure and stable maritime domain. They also recognized the need for collective efforts at capacity building to enhance understanding of international laws, especially UNCLOS 1982. In this regard, ICWA’s proposal to work towards this end along with IORA Member States was noted.
- The IORA Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security (WGMSS) Work Plan too has called for the establishment of an integrated policy approach and a coordinated Regional Vision for maritime safety and security in IORA to address existing and emerging issues.
- The IOD and the WGMSS have both emphasized the importance of cooperation through ‘capability enhancement’ and ‘capacity building’ to 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 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- There is no denying that oceans and seas are critical for humankind and require sustainable use and for that we require efficient management and effective law enforcement. This can be achieved through international legal instruments which establish the “rules of the game” for using the oceans as shared geography for navigation or resource development and reduce any negative or adverse impact of human footprint on goods and services obtained and contained therein. The 1982 UNCLOS is a robust legal framework for the management of oceans and seas. It is rightly referred to as the ‘Constitution for the Oceans’ and its adoption and subsequent ratification by majority of the UN Member States has firmly established it as a legal order. Most IORA Member States have ratified/acceded to the 1982 UNCLOS.
- India signed the 1982 UNCLOS on 10 December 1982 and ratified on 29 June 1995 and remains committed to upholding and respecting the territorial interests and sovereignty of coastal states. India calls for a free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific, based upon a cooperative, collaborative and internationally accepted rules-based order, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue and adherence to international rules and laws.
- We are thankful for the interest shown by IORA Member States in participating at this workshop. Speakers from Australia, Bangladesh, India, Madagascar, Mauritius, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Singapore and Tanzania will be participating at the Workshop; and many experts from other IORA Member States will be participating in the discussions. We structured the programme of the Workshop in line with the interest shown by IORA Member States in various themes circulated. Discussions today will be held on varying interpretation and application of 1982 UNCLOS by States, on Dispute Resolution, on Freedom of Navigation, on Sustainable Fisheries Development and Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported (IUU) Fishing, and on Protection of the Marine Environment and Issues of Marine Scientific Research (MSR). In preparation for this Workshop, ICWA also held National Consultations with Indian experts in August 2020.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
- At the ICWA, we remain committed to creating platforms for sharing knowledge of regulatory and legal frameworks concerning the oceans and seas through capacity building workshops for IORA Member States such as the one we are conducting today.
- Let me once again welcome you all by saying that how delighted and honoured we are to have your presence and participation. I look forward to constructive and fruitful discussions on such an important subject.