UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK – Ambassador and Permanent Representative (PR) Antonio M. Lagdameo of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York joined the international community in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the adoption and opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) at the General Assembly of the United Nations Headquarters in New York on 8 December 2022.
The UNCLOS is considered a historic achievement resulting from the efforts of the international community to achieve the shared goal of ensuring the peaceful and sustainable use of the ocean and its resources for present and future generations.
Ambassador Lagdameo highlighted the South China Sea Arbitration award in his statement. “As we commemorate the 40th year of the adoption of Convention, we celebrate the issuance of the arbitral award as a singular contribution to the strengthening of the Convention. Together, they are the anchors of our positions and actions on the South China Sea,” he said.
The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, who opened the event, said that the Convention had given the international community a “common language and guidance on how to define sovereign and navigational rights at sea; how to delineate maritime borders between neighbors; and how to regard and manage this vast common treasure and heritage of humankind.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres, meanwhile, remarked, “The Convention’s 40th anniversary is an important reminder to continue using this critical instrument to tackle today’s challenges.”
“As we gather today, the Convention is more relevant than ever. The ocean is in dire straits. Today, 35 per cent of the world’s fisheries are overexploited. Sea levels are rising. The ocean is acidifying and choked with pollution. Life-sustaining coral reefs are bleaching and dying. Epic floods threaten coastal cities around the world. Small island developing states and coastal communities face massive challenges as they confront rising sea levels,” Secretary-General Guterres said.
Ambassador Lagdameo stressed that UNCLOS remained a bulwark of humanity amidst the global emergency facing the world’s oceans. He recalled the Philippines’ support to the unprecedented multilateral effort to craft the Convention and reminded the United Nations for whom diplomatic efforts ought to redound to – "Those whose lives are impacted daily and directly by common waters and by the UNCLOS: the fisherfolk, the seafarer, and the coastal citizen.”
“As an archipelagic state, a maritime nation with a seafaring tradition, the Philippines reaffirms that the Convention is the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out,” Ambassador Lagdameo said.
“Forty years since its adoption and almost thirty years since its entry into force, the Philippines reaffirms its commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Beyond merely reflecting universally recognized principles, UNCLOS is an instrument of international law – a landmark document entrusted to us and future generations by its visionary framers,” Ambassador Lagdameo concluded.
The International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, bodies created under the UNCLOS, also took part in the commemorative event.
UNCLOS was opened for signature at Montego Bay, Jamaica on 10 December 1982. It entered on 14 November 1994 and is presently binding for 167 States. The Philippines ratified UNCLOS on 8 May 1984, two years after signing the treaty at its adoption.
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