Statement by Ambassador Munir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the UN at the UN General Assembly's meeting on the Agenda Item 77 (a) Oceans and the Law of the Sea
(7 December 2021)

Mr. President,

We thank the Secretary-General for his Report A/76/311on the "Oceans and the law of the sea".

Pakistan would also like to thank delegations of Singapore and Norway for coordinating the resolutions on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and on Sustainable Fisheries respectively.

Mr. President,

Oceans are a vital element, not only for those who inhabit coastal areas, but for humankind as a whole. We depend on oceans for environmental services, food, trade, transportation and energy and global ecological balance.

It is, therefore, crucial that we understand the impact of human activity on our oceans.

Improving the governance of the oceans and strengthening legal frameworks is therefore essential for international peace and security, interconnectivity, the blue economy, and free trade.

Mr. President,

The international legal regime governing all activities in the oceans and seas consists of a several global, regional and bilateral legal instruments and customary international law.

Since its adoption, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its affiliated institutions governing the law of the sea have played an important role in ensuring the harmonious and judicious use of ocean resources for all mankind.

Pakistan also attaches great importance to the work of the three bodies established under UNCLOS - the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA).

The work of the CLCS has become more active each year because of the increasing number of submissions by States to determine the limits of their continental shelves beyond 200 nautical miles.

In this regard, we would like to reiterate that while examining submissions, the Commission needs to give due regard to the Rules of Procedure of the CLCS.

Where a land or maritime dispute exists, the Commission shall not consider a submission made by any of the states concerned in the dispute, until prior consent is given by all states that are parties to such a dispute in accordance with Rule 5 (a) of Annex I of Rules of Procedure of the CLCS.

Mr. President,

Pakistan reiterates the importance of making progress on the draft treaty under UNCLOS, on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).

We reiterate that the principle of "common heritage of mankind" should guide and underpin the new legal regime. It provides a solid legal foundation for a fair and equitable regime that would allow all countries to benefit from the potential that marine biodiversity represents in terms of global food security and economic prosperity, and to address the challenges of conservation and sustainable use of Marine Genetic Resources (MGRs) of areas beyond national jurisdictions.

While there is still diversity of views on a number of key issues related to BBNJ, we would urge all delegations to take a balanced and progressive approach during the next session. It is essential to focus on achieving a good-quality result that will enable us to reach a "consensus" solution.

Mr. President,

The idea of a 'Blue Economy' recognizes the seas and oceans as main drivers for the economic development with great potential for innovation and growth.

Pakistan's interest in it emanates from coastline of over 1000 kilometers, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of around 290,000 square kilometers, Karachi port and the newly built deep seaport at Gwadar.

We are also an important stakeholder in the Indian Ocean security framework, which includes counter-piracy as well as human trafficking and narcotics smuggling.

The Indian Ocean represents an increasingly important avenue for global trade. It hosts international maritime traffic that includes half of the world's containerized cargo, one-third of its bulk cargo, and two-thirds of its oil shipments.

Yet, emerging issues, ranging from piracy and territorial water disputes to global environmental pressures on coastal and marine resources, pose considerable challenges for policymakers.

The Indian Ocean offers promising potential for mutual cooperation and collaboration. But geo-strategic competition and the pursuit of military dominance by some States have gravely jeopardized that potential.

The international community needs to be cognizant of the fact that any military conflict in South Asia could endanger stability in a region that is critical for global trade and global peace and security.

We are also concerned at the politicization of the issues related to the South China Sea. Pakistan maintains that the resolution of the disputes related to the South China Sea are between the countries concerned. Countries outside this region should respect the negotiations and the process through which the parties concerned wish to resolve their disputes.

Mr. President,

In conclusion, the Government of Pakistan is fully committed to the sustainable development of its Blue Economy partnership for the 2030 Agenda, including SDG 14 pertaining to conservation of oceans.

We are ready to cooperate and collaborate with other friendly nations and partners in the region and around the world, to realize this goal for the mutual benefit of all.

I thank you.