The rights of Vietnam, a member of UNCLOS

The area of waters and continental shelf in which Vietnam can enjoy the rights for the sea and resources in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is approximately 1 million square kilometers.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the date the convention came into force, and marks the 25th year of Vietnam’s ratification and depositing of instruments of ratification at the UN Secretariat (July 27, 1994 – July 27, 2019).

The rights of Vietnam, a member of UNCLOS

As a coastal country with a coastline of over 3,260km with thousands of islands, including Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly), Vietnam has many benefits associated with the sea. Recognizing the importance of the sea, Vietnam actively participated in the negotiation process to build the 1982 UNCLOS and has been making great efforts in implementing the Convention.

Vietnam was one of 107 countries which signed UNCLOS in Montego Bay, Jamaica, right after the document was open for signing, and it was one of the countries ratifying the convention very early, before the convention took effect. This demonstrates Vietnam's good will, respect and expectation in a new legal order for the sea and the ocean.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the date the convention came into force, and marks the 25th year of Vietnam’s ratification and depositing of instruments of ratification at the UN Secretariat (July 27, 1994 – July 27, 2019).

On June 23, 1994, the National Assembly issued a resolution on the ratification of UNCLOS, affirming Vietnam's sovereignty over internal waters, territorial waters, sovereignty and jurisdiction over the contiguous zone, Vietnam's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf on the basis of the provisions of the Convention, and the principles of international law.

The resolution affirms Vietnam’s sovereignty over the two archipelagos Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly), and it advocates the settlement of disputes on territorial sovereignty as well as other disagreements related to the East Sea issues through peaceful negotiation, in the spirit of equality, mutual understanding and respect for international laws, especially the 1982 UNCLOS.

As a member of the Convention, Vietnam is entitled to have territorial waters of 12 nautical miles, an exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles, and a continental shelf of at least 200 nautical miles.

The area of waters and continental shelf in which Vietnam can enjoy the rights for the sea and resources in accordance with UNCLOS is approximately 1 million square kilometers, or 3 times the mainland area.

In order to implement the responsibility and show the good will of a member country of UNCLOS, Vietnam has always respected and implemented the obligations set by the Convention, gradually improving the national legal system, applying provisions of the Convention in the determination of maritime zones and delimitation of maritime boundaries with neighbors as well as management and use of the sea.

This is considered an important step forward in transferring the provisions of UNCLOS to the domestic legal system, and facilitating the unified management of the sea and the development of Vietnam's maritime economy.

Vietnam has made great efforts in effectively applying UNCLOS to settle disputes related to maritime delimitation with neighboring countries.

 

Vietnam signed with Thailand an agreement on maritime delimitation on August 9, 1997; signed with China an agreement on delimitation of the Tonkin Gulf and an agreement on the cooperation in fishery in Tonkin Gulf on December 25, 2000; and signed with Indonesia an agreement on the delimitation of the continental shelf on June 26, 2003.

With Vietnam’s great efforts, the content "based on international law, the 1982 UNCLOS to find a basic long-term solution to disputes in the South China Sea" is included in the Vietnam-China Agreement on basic principles for settling maritime issues signed on November 10, 2011.

Based on the provisions of the Convention, Vietnam has been effectively carrying out marine economic activities in the exclusive economic zone and continental shelf of 200 nautical miles that serves the country's development.

Vietnam also proactively promotes cooperation with relevant parties in protecting the marine environment, rescuing at sea, preventing natural disasters and implementing measures to prevent crimes at sea, contributing to the full implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

On October 22, 2018, the Central Party Executive Committee issued a resolution on the strategy for sustainable development of Vietnam's marine economy to 2030, with a vision to 2045, showing the great determination of the Party and the State to sustainably develop a sea-borne economy, turning Vietnam into a strong marine nation.

Vietnam also actively participates in activities within the framework of international mechanisms established under the Convention. At the regional level, Vietnam has signed many joint agreements within the framework of ASEAN cooperation related to maritime transport and transport services.

All of this is vivid evidence showing the Vietnamese Government's good will, strong determination and practical commitment to respect and enforce UNCLOS's provisions.

This also demonstrates Vietnam’s efforts and consistent policy in cooperating in resolving disputes and disagreements at sea with peaceful means, suitable to international laws, including UNCLOS, in order to promote cooperation with other countries, and protect Vietnam's legitimate rights and interests in the East Sea. 

Thai An

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