Mr. President,

1. I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Canada, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Vanuatu and Viet Nam.

Mr. President,

2. The long journey of UNCLOS in the past 40 years has become a symbol success in the development of international law in the interests of peace, security and development for every nation and for the entire international community. It is a major milestone in the development and implementation of international law of the sea and the use of oceans in an orderly and sustainable manner. It carries historic meanings for humankind. We would like to emphasize the most salient ones as follows.

3. First, it cannot be emphasized enough that UNCLOS establishes, for the first time in history, a comprehensive framework of law for the oceans within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. The international community, including the General Assembly, has repeatedly emphasized the universal and unified character of the UNCLOS, reiterating that the Convention "is of strategic importance as the basis for national, regional and global action and cooperation in the marine sector" and "its integrity needs to be maintained".

4. Second, with UNCLOS comes greater clarity, stability and predictability in ocean and maritime activities. Common, unified rules provided by UNCLOS have become the basis for state activities in all aspects of ocean space and governance. International and state maritime zones have been by and large clarified. Navigational rights have been generally respected.

5. Third, with UNCLOS comes greater peace and security. The peaceful settlement of international maritime disputes in accordance with international law has been promoted through the Convention's compulsory dispute settlement regime. Numerous disagreements among states have been amicably settled through UNCLOS mechanisms and based on UNCLOS. International peace and stability therefore thankfully in the seas have been by and large maintained.

6. Fourth, with UNCLOS comes greater development and prosperity for all states. Economic activities, from fisheries to trade through maritime shipping, have benefited from the sound legal basis provided for by UNCLOS. The rights and interests of landlocked as well as the geographically disadvantaged states have been safeguarded. Marine scientific research has been advanced. The framework for the protection, conservation, and the sustainable use of oceans and seas has been promoted, including efforts in the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14). Rules, regulations and procedures for activities in the Area have been formulated.

7. Fifth, with UNCLOS comes greater basis for further development and implementation of the law of the seas. In this regard, it is worth mentioning the instruments related to the Convention, including, as appropriate, the 1994 Agreement relating the Implementation of Part XI and the 1995 Agreement relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. They also include important progress in the ongoing negotiation of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Institutions established under the Convention, including the International Seabed Authority, the Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, have also proved to be critical to maintaining the rule of law, and order at sea and promoting the sustainable use of marine resources.

Mr. President,

8. Upholding and fully implementing UNCLOS remains as urgent as ever. Longstanding challenges remain. Maritime disputes persist. Transnational organized crimes committed at sea continue unabated. Marine resources across regions have been depleted. Severe effects of climate change have been made abundantly clear in marine life and maritime activities in many places, especially small island developing states and vulnerable coastal states.

9. The international community therefore should further efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the oceans as established by the Convention. States, large or small, must comply with legal and normative obligations under the Convention in good faith. State actions, including maritime claims, maritime activities and international and regional cooperation must be in line with UNCLOS. Freedom of navigation and safety and security of lawful maritime activities must be ensured. It is also important to settle maritime disputes through peaceful means, with full respect for legal mechanisms and processes provided for in UNCLOS. The management, conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development must be promoted by further commitments and actions if we are to fully implement SDG14. We also call on states who have not acceded to the Convention to do so as soon as possible.

Mr. President,

10. With a view to shouldering that common responsibility, last year the Group of Friends of UNCLOS was established. Members of the Group, now numbering nearly 120, seek to renew our collective commitment to this critical Convention, promote the understanding of UNCLOS and its application and explore opportunities for cooperation to respond to challenges and possible support in the implementation of the Convention, including in ocean governance and conservation and sustainable use of oceans and the seas in accordance with the Convention. We heartily welcome this commemorative plenary of the General Assembly as another milestone in our joint reaffirmation of support for UNCLOS.

11. We are also pleased with the resumption or continuation of a number of activities and events this year related to oceans and the law of the sea, including those organized by some members of the Group of Friends of UNCLOS. The success of the 2022 United Nations Oceans Conference cohosted by Portugal and Kenya, with the political declaration facilitated by Denmark and Grenada, galvanized stronger momentum for our common goals. Two rounds of BBNJ negotiations held during this year were also essential steps in the field of the law of the sea.

12. We would like to conclude by reiterating our belief that in joining hands in reaffirming the utmost importance of the Convention the beneficiary will be peace, security, cooperation of all nations and the future generations.

I thank you./.​

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