Trinidad and Tobago hails the 30th anniversary of the Law of the Sea Convention

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General Assembly Hall

The 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, acting as a "constitution for the oceans", guided every aspect of maritime affairs and set out a delicate balance of rights and duties, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the General Assembly celebrated the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the nearly universal treaty.

Trinidad and Tobago signed the Convention on 10th December 1982, when it was

opened for signature at the close of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The representative of twin-Island republic Ambassador Eden Charles told the UN General Assembly that Trinidad and Tobago was therefore among the first group of States to have signaled its intention to be bound by the landmark Treaty, which it accepted as the constitution of the oceans and seas.

TAPE: Over the past thirty years (30) much has happened in the life of the Convention for Trinidad and Tobago and the international community as a whole. We have witnessed the almost universal reach of a treaty, which has more than any other agreement, established a firm basis for the preservation and promotion of the rule of law in our oceans and seas. Today 164 States Parties rely on the Convention as the basis for the conduct of all of their activities in the maritime areas both within and beyond national jurisdiction.

Trinidad and Tobago also enacted legislation in 1986 to give domestic legal effect to the

provisions of the Convention. As a State Party, having satisfied the criteria laid down in Part IV of the Convention, Trinidad and Tobago was able to declare itself as an archipelagic State and is recognized globally as having this status. The creation of the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone together with the regime of the continental shelf under the convention, has allowed Trinidad and Tobago, as one of the oldest producers of hydrocarbons in the world, to expand its production beyond land-based

sources and areas closer to the shore to farther areas on the continental shelf.

NAR: According to Ambassador Charles, it is the expectation of Trinidad and Tobago that jurisdiction over the continental shelf would extend even further. As a result,, the country awaits a recommendation from the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf based on its 2009 submission which seeks to establish the outer limits of Trinidad and Tobago’s continental shelf..

TAPE: Over the past three (3) decades, we have relied on the provisions of the Convention as the basis for engagement in matters beyond the exploitation of the living and non-living resources of the maritime zones over which we exercise jurisdiction in accordance with international law. Trinidad and Tobago, for example, has been able to conclude agreements relating to maritime boundary delimitation and sustainable use of fisheries resources with neighbouring coastal states in keeping with the provisions of the Convention. These bilateral treaties have been either concluded through negotiations or settled by arbitration. We have also established an Institute of Marine Affairs (“the IMA”) to assist in the creation of mechanisms to preserve and protect the marine environment, as well as to engage in marine scientific research in the maritime zones under our jurisdiction.

NAR: Ambassador Charles says more than any other international treaty, the Law of the Sea Convention is a reflection of the will of the global community to conclude a framework agreement, which not only recognizes the sovereignty and sovereign rights of coastal states, but also the rights of other states to benefit from the resources of our oceans and seas.

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 4’41″

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