Statement by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
10 December, 2012
United Nations General Assembly Plenary Meeting
Devoted to the Commemoration of the Thirtieth Anniversary of the Opening for Signature
of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Distinguished Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to express my sincere congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Japan, as a State Party to UNCLOS, takes pleasure from today’s commemorative meeting, held on the 10th of December, the very day when UNCLOS was opened for signature 30 years ago.
Japan, as a maritime state surrounded by the sea, has held significant stakes in the various uses of the ocean, including fishing, transportation and the utilization of marine resources. Japan firmly believed that in order to achieve full utilization of the rich potential of the sea over the long term, the establishment of a framework for the orderly shared use of the seas and oceans would serve the interests of Japan and the international community.
Based on this conviction, at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III), Japan, bearing in mind the emerging needs of the era as well as the particular interests and needs of developing countries, worked hard with a view to establishing a new, stable, and fair legal order of the sea. Memorial essays of Japanese Fathers of UNCLOS in the commemoration booklet published by DOALOS show how actively Japan engaged in UNCLOS III.
In Japan, the level of interest in UNCLOS and the Law of the Sea remains high. In this thirtieth commemorative year, a number of conferences and symposiums have been held by private-sector organizations and academic societies.
For the last 30 years, after the opening for signature of UNCLOS and 18 years after its entry into force, the international community has steadily made efforts to establish a legal order for the seas and oceans under the Convention. Here, I would like to give my heartfelt praise to the three organs which were established under the Convention; namely, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).
Since the establishment of these three organs, Japan has actively contributed to their work, by, for example, providing the judges for the Tribunal and members for the CLCS. Similarly, Japan has recently made contributions of approximately $352,000 US dollars to the Trust Fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation in meetings of the CLCS for members from developing States. We hope that Japan’s contributions will facilitate efficient work by the Commission, which is demanded to deal with numerous submissions made by States.
Japan has promoted the rule of law in the international society. At the High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law held here on the 24th of September this year, Mr. Koichiro Gemba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, firmly reiterated the importance of international courts and tribunals as a means to settle international disputes peacefully in accordance with the law. In order to facilitate the use of international courts and tribunals, Minister Gemba called upon all States that have not yet done so to accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and to accede to UNCLOS.
It goes without saying that in order to enhance the rule of law in the oceans, it is of crucial importance that the mechanism of the peaceful dispute settlement of UNCLOS is effectively operated. With regard to ITLOS established under UNCLOS, we are pleased to see the Tribunal, by the issuance of an advisory opinion by its Seabed Dispute Chamber and by rendering a judgment in a dispute related to the delimitation of maritime zones, steadily expanding its activities in various fields of law of the sea. Very recently, the twentieth case has been brought before the tribunal, which reflects, in our view, the ever-growing trust of the international community towards the Tribunal.
Today, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of UNCLOS, which has a total of 164 parties including the European Union. For the last 30 years, UNCLOS has continuously faced new challenges arising from exigencies of the era. Having passed the test of time of 30 years, UNCLOS has attained, both in name and substance, status as “the constitution for the oceans,” serving as the very basis of international legal order for the oceans.
Japan believes that, with a view to maintain legal stability, it is crucially important for the international community to continue addressing the emerging issues of the law of the sea within the framework of UNCLOS.
I would like to close my statement by reiterating Japan’s determination to make its utmost efforts to continue to support the establishment and maintenance of a stable and fair international legal order of the sea.
Thank you, Mr. President.