Mr. Budi Bowoleksono
Deputy Director-General for Multilateral Affairs
Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia
to the 62nd session of the UNGA on agenda item 79:
“Oceans and the law of the sea”
New York, 10 December 2007
Let me begin by thanking the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report on “Ocean affairs and the law of the sea,” in document A/62/66, as well as its two addenda.
Our appreciation also goes to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) and the Secretariat for their commitment to this subject matter.
Twenty five years ago today, UNCLOS was opened for signature in Montego Bay, Jamaica following its adoption after nine years of marathon negotiations. Remarkably, 119 countries signed the Convention on that very first day.
It is further noteworthy that since then, the Convention has received the very broad support of the international community, as is reflected in its current 155 states parties. Indeed, this is a reflection of the universality of the Convention as the constitution of the ocean, to govern every aspect of the use and resources of the sea, and any activities relating to the ocean space.
Despite this, it is obvious that much remains to be done to effect the implementation of the Convention. Among other, states need to strengthen their cooperation if they are truly to promote the use of marine resources in a responsible and mutually beneficial manner.
Of particular relevance here is the protection and preservation of the marine ecosystem against pollution and physical degradation. The increasing use and the exploitation of marine resources, side by side with the advancement of technology certainly, pose a big challenge for us in the preservation of the marine ecosystem.
Moreover, the marine environment and marine biodiversity have been affected adversely by the global warming. The warming of the climate system is unequivocal as has been revealed in the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The widespread melting of polar region which caused rising global average sea level has affected us in many directions.
Being an archipelagic country, the increase in temperature is evident in Indonesia as it affects coastal livelihoods, and the marine biodiversity in our waters. What is worse is that, according to certain projections, if this pattern continues and sea levels continue to rise, as many as 2000 Indonesian islands could be lost completely in just two decades.
We are not alone. Many island nations have also expressed alarm that rising sea levels could similarly eliminate them from the map.
As glaciers retreat, water supplies are also being put at risk. Changing weather patterns also threaten to exacerbate desertification, drought and food insecurity for populations living in dry lands, especially those in Africa.
No nation or peoples should have to pay this kind of price.
The international community therefore has the common but differentiated responsibility to act in concert in order to mitigate the challenge of global warming, inter alia, by mapping out concrete action to tackle climate change after 2012, when the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol ends.
And we hope that by the time the Bali Conference on the UN Climate Change wraps up this week, a major step would have been achieved that will avert these horror projections. As such, the Bali conference should agree on the establishment of a future framework o post 2012 agreement that includes mitigation, adaptation, technology, investment and finance.
A similar challenge faces us in promoting the responsible harvesting of living marine resources on the high seas. Advances in technology have led to serious depletion of the world fisheries, and contributed to the degradation of the marine ecosystem.
We certainly have the obligation to avoid “tragedy of the common” because of over-exploitation of the common resources in the high seas. States can promote the long term sustainable protection of the shared fish stocks through domestic legislation, and in cooperation with the other countries as well as with Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs).
On our part, Indonesia, in partnership with Australia, in May this year co-hosted a regional ministerial meeting on promoting responsible fishing practices. That important event was attended by high-level representatives of the countries in the region dealing with this issue, and representatives of the Food and Agriculture Organization.
Whilst affirming the important contribution of the shared fish stocks in the region as a source of food, we decided to take collective action to enhance the overall level of conservation and management of the fishery resources in the South China Sea, the Sulu-Sulawesi seas and the Arafura-Timor seas. To meet this objective, countries in the region adopted a Regional Plan of Action.
While providing a legal framework for all ocean related activities, we should not lose sight of some issues that have not adequately been addressed by the Convention.
Two conditions have contributed to this situation.
The first relates to technological advances that were made since agreement was reached on the Convention. The progress in technology unveils new ways to take advantage of ocean resources unanticipated at that time.
The second is the comprehensive nature of the Convention to cover 25 subjects and issues related to practically every aspect of the uses of the sea. Thus, the Convention might only provide a general legal framework on certain issues.
The ongoing discussion on the issue of legal regime for marine genetic resources beyond areas of national jurisdiction mirrors our undertaking to further clarify the Convention. The different views expressed in the last Informal Consultation Process have clearly reflected the challenge we are facing in the implementation of the legal regime on the matter deriving from the Convention.
Whilst acknowledging that further discussion is needed for purposes of clarification, my delegation wishes to underscore the importance of ensuring the integrity of the Convention.
In a separate development, my delegation welcomes the adoption of the Convention on the Removal of Wrecks recently in Nairobi. This comes as a very critical moment to as it clarifies rights and obligations of state on the identification, reporting, locating and removal of hazardous wrecks, in particular those found beyond territorial waters, and the financial security arrangements to cover liability for costs of removal of such wrecks.
The adoption of the Wreck Removal Convention will secure the ability and authority of states to have removed from waters beyond their territorial seas, wrecks that may pose a hazard to navigation and pose a threat to safety of navigation and the maritime environment.
Whilst ship owners and their insurance companies share the obligation to remove such wrecks, my delegation is of the view that flag states should play a pivotal role and take appropriate measures to ensure the compliance of ships flying their flags or of their registry in line with their international liability.
Finally, let me touch briefly the issue of safety of navigation and maritime security. We certainly will have the benefit of extensive discussions of the matter during the meeting of UNICPOLOUS next year.
The reports before us observe the growing awareness worldwide of the challenges to maritime security, and the necessity for international cooperation in order to prevent and combat the threats to it.
This is a matter of great importance to us in Indonesia, and one that is being tackled seriously at the domestic level. In addition, we have also enhanced cooperation with the countries in the region and other stakeholders, inter alia, through best practices, joint patrol and information-sharing.
We are pleased to note the decrease, between 2005 and 2006, in the number of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships reported to the International Maritime Organization for the Asian region, including armed robbery in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. This positive trend continues to prevail this year.
However, we should avoid the temptation of complacency in considering this commendable development. We must continue to enhance cooperation at various levels.
In this regard, Indonesia continues to be determined, together with other littoral states in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, to ensure the safety and security of navigation in the area. The recent establishment of the Cooperative Mechanism of the Tripartite Technical Experts Group (TTEG) by the three littoral countries, we believe, is a strong step in this direction.
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