77th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly: 51st Session - Part 2

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09-Dec-1996 00:38:09
General Assembly seeks maximum support for Law of Sea Convention; non-signatory states asked to join at 77th plenary meeting of the 51st session.

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Other Texts Express Concern at Over-Fishing; Violations Of Global Moratorium on Use of Large-Scale Drift-Nets on High Seas.

The General Assembly this afternoon called upon States that had not already done so to become parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. A draft resolution, adopted by 138 in favour to one against (Turkey), with four abstentions (Ecuador, Peru, Tajikistan and Venezuela), also contained provisions on the settlement of disputes and the funding of the International Seabed Authority.

In two related drafts adopted without a vote, the Assembly expressed its concern that many important fish stocks continued to be overfished, and it called upon members of the international community to impose appropriate sanctions on those who violated the global moratorium on all large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing on the high seas.

The Assembly thus concluded its consideration of the item entitled "Law of the Sea".

The representative of Malaysia said unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction had been a long-time problem for Malaysia, including the encroachment of foreign fishing vessels into its exclusive economic zone. Such action was obviously a threat to Malaysia's sustainable fisheries development and for that reason his Government called for urgent international action on that issue. Malaysia had also become the victim of illegal dumping of toxic wastes and sludge by irresponsible ship navigation through the Straits of Malacca.

Explaining his vote, the representative of Turkey said the Convention on the Law of the Sea did not make adequate provisions for special geographic situations. As a consequence, it was not able to establish an acceptable balance between conflicting interests. He said the Convention made no provision for registering reservations on specific clauses, and for that reason Turkey could not become party to the Convention, despite approving the general intent of the text.

The representative of Tunisia underlined the importance of the choice of procedure established in article 287 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea by which a State, upon signing the Convention, declared its choice for one or several of the listed options for the settlement of disputes. Until today, he noted, only 16 States had made such a declaration.

Statements were also made by Argentina, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Malta, Paraguay, Russian Federation, Ukraine, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay and Viet Nam. China and Viet Nam spoke in right of reply.

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