Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank the President of the General Assembly and Denmark, Grenada, Kenya, Portugal and Singapore for initiating and convening this High-level Meeting. As we are marking the 40th Anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on Law of the Sea this year, it gives us the opportunity to reflect on how much we have achieved so far and what are the major challenges for the implementation of the Convention in future. Bangladesh aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Group of Friends of UNCLOS.
76 years ago in 1945, the United Nations was established with the fundamental objective to maintain international peace and security and to that end to take effective measures for the prevention and removal of any threats to peace. The conclusion of the UNCLOS in 1982 was such a landmark initiative under the auspices of the United Nations to establish a rule-based international order at ocean and sea. In the last four decades, the Convention has successfully standardized states’ claims to maritime zones and the resources within them, and provided states with mechanisms for settling disputes in a peaceful manner. And this way, it has contributed in preventing conflicts over ocean and oceanic resources around the globe. The fact that most maritime boundaries have been agreed by neighboring states and there have been few formal disputes is testament to the widespread support for UNCLOS by states.
Bangladesh is deeply committed to the Convention and its obligation. Following our ratification of the Convention in 2001, we have taken significant efforts for its implementation. We have resolved our maritime boundary disputes with neighboring countries in accordance with Chapter XV of UNCLOS. We have submitted our claim for outer continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal as per the relevant provision of the Convention. At the national level, we have amended our pre-UNCLOS base line and enacted Maritime Zones Act in conformity with the UNCLOS.
The UNCLOS remains the foundation for all human activities at ocean and sea. However, the Convention has some challenges in terms of its implementation. We need global solidarity and cooperation to that end. Let me make a few points in this regard in my national capacity.
First, the health of our ocean and seas are now under severe threat by, among others, pollution and the adverse effect of climate-induced sea level rise. Ocean and sea governance mechanism like the conclusion of BBNJ agreement will play instrumental role in mitigating those challenges.
We take note the progress made during the 4th BBNJ Conference and the 5th BBNJ is scheduled to take place in August 2022. We stress on the urgency to conclude the negotiation of the BBNJ agreement by 2022, which will be another important milestone in the conservation, protection and management of marine environment beyond national jurisdiction under the preview of UNCLOS Convention.
Second, the key institutions created under UNCLOS such as ITLOS, CLCS, ISA are making significant contribution to the governance of ocean and sea with their respective mandates. Bangladesh remains constructively engaged in the activities of those organizations. These institutions need to be continuously strengthened for carrying out their mandates effectively. The States Parties should continue to engage in discussion to help those institutions in upholding their integrity, independence and efficiency.
Third, commonly known as the ‘constitution of the oceans’, the UNCLOS is one of the most widely ratified treaties, with 168 signatories including the European Union. On the occasion of this commemorative event today, we call upon all remaining States to join the Convention to achieve its universality.
To conclude, Mr. President, we would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment of Bangladesh to the implementation of UNCLOS which remains the principal instrument for carrying out activities in the oceans and seas.