The event from October 4-6 drew diplomats of the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, and Germany, along with Indian officials and local and foreign researchers.

Speaking at the conference, India’s Vice Admiral Vinay Badhwar highlighted the role of UNCLOS, stressing that this convention created a legal framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas so as to balance the rights and obligations of non-landlocked countries towards others.

Jagdish Mukhi, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, said UNCLOS is broadly recognised as a “constitution of the oceans” when it sets up a legal framework with which all activities in oceans and seas must comply, including the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources.

He expressed his hope that the conference would discuss an array of issues, including the UNCLOS’s long-term legality, the continued application of the convention, the role of the UNCLOS in creating conditions for peacefully resolving disputes, and solutions to settle sea disputes harmoniously.

Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh speaks at the conference on the UNCLOS (Photo: VNA)
Maritime issues have been emerging as one of the most important security problems in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, making many powerful countries adjust their policies towards this region, he noted.

Each country’s adherence to all international law and rulings of international courts is critical to global peace, Jagdish Mukhi affirmed, calling on all countries to augment capacity building efforts in order to protect oceans and bring about chances to all countries to use marine resources in a peaceful, equal and sustainable fashion.

In his speech, Vietnamese Ambassador to India Ton Sinh Thanh underscored the importance of the East Sea in terms of its strategic location and natural resources.

He noted two types of disputes in the East Sea at present which are territorial disputes over islands and disputes over maritime boundary, and they are related to each other.

The Hague tribunal’s verdict over the Philippines’ lawsuit against China last year is a foundation to solve not only issues between the Philippines and China but also disputes between parties with sovereign claims in the East Sea, Thanh said, adding that thanks to this ruling, disputed areas in the waters have reduced considerably.

However, the diplomat said, the East Sea situation remains complicated and the only solution to this problem is peaceful negotiation in line with international law, especially the 1982 UNCLOS.

He urged parties with sovereign claims in the East Sea to avoid complicating the situation by not altering the status quo of this area and respecting the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC).

Thanh also stressed the role of the collective strength of regional nations and powerful countries in the world, including India, in the East Sea issue./.