Vietnam respects, fully implements UNCLOS 1982

Vietnam activelyparticipated in the negotiation process and building of the 1982 United NationsConvention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and has made significant efforts inenforcing the pact.

Illustrative image – Source: VNA

The country has a coastline of more than 3,260km andthousands of islands, including the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly)archipelagos.

Aware of the importance of the sea, Vietnam has always upheldthe principles and goals of the UNCLOS while taking actions to contribute tothe implementation of the convention.

Before the UNCLOS came into force, Vietnam had utilisedrelevant provisions of international law to build domestic legal documents onseas.

In 1977, Vietnam issued the Declaration of the Government onVietnam’s territorial waters, which declared its 200-nautical mile exclusiveeconomic zone. 

The declaration was issued when the UNCLOS was beingnegotiated and it was supported by the majority of countries at the third UNConference on the Law of the Sea, reflecting Vietnam’s contributions to thecodification of international law. 

With this declaration, Vietnam together with Kenya, Myanmar,Cuba, Yemen, Dominica, Guatemala, India, Pakistan, Mexico and the Seychelleswere considered among the pioneering countries in making “exclusive economiczone” customary international law and later became a key content of the UNCLOS.

Vietnam was among 107 countries signing the UNCLOS in MontegoBay, Jamaica, right after the pact was open for signature and was among thefirst countries ratifying it before it took effect. 
In 1994, the National Assembly of Vietnam issued a resolutionapproving the UNCLOS. The resolution affirmed Vietnam’s sovereignty over itsinternal waters, territorial waters as well as its sovereign rights andjurisdiction over the contiguous sea, exclusive economic zone, and continentalshelf on the basis of the UNCLOS provisions and the rules of international law,demanding other countries respect Vietnam’s rights. 

The resolution also affirms Vietnam’s sovereignty over theHoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos and its policies to settle disputes andother differences related to the East Sea through peaceful talks in a spirit ofequality, mutual understanding and mutual respect, and respect forinternational law.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of theofficial entry into force of the UNCLOS and the 25thanniversary ofVietnam’s ratification of the UNCLOS.

As a member of the UNCLOS, Vietnam is entitled to a12-nautical mile territorial sea, 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone andcontinental shelf of at least 200 nautical miles. 

To demonstrate the obligations and goodwill of a signatory ofthe UNCLOS, Vietnam has always respected and implemented its obligationsdefined by the UNCLOS, improved its national legal system, and applied theUNCLOS provisions in identifying its waters, delimitation of maritimeboundaries with neighbouring countries and marine usage.

Vietnam has also worked with other countries in line with theUNCLOS regulations for the sustainable preservation and use of marineresources.

In 2012, Vietnam approved the Law of the Sea of Vietnam, animportant step to translating the provisions of the UNCLOS into domesticlegislation, creating favourable conditions for synchronous management ofterritorial waters and marine economic development. 

The National Assembly also approved the Vietnam Maritime Codein 2015, which came into effect on July 1, 2017.

The legislature passed a series of other sea-related legal documentssuch as the Law on national border in 2003, Law on environmental protection in2014 and Law on natural resources and sea and island environment in 2015.

Vietnam has made great efforts to apply the UNCLOS indelimitation of marine boundary with neighbouring countries.

Specifically, Vietnam and Thailand signed an agreement onsettling the maritime boundary between the two countries in the Gulf ofThailand on August 9, 1997, Vietnam and China signed an agreement on thedelimitation of the Tonkin Gulf and another on fisheries cooperation onDecember 25, 2000, and Vietnam and Indonesia signed an agreement on thedelimitation of continental shelf on June 26, 2003. 

Further, Vietnam has protected international law, includingthe UNCLOS. While discussing disputes in the East Sea, Vietnam has consistentlydemanded respect for international law and the UNCLOS, considering it aprinciple to settle and resolve sea-related disputes. 

Vietnam has made endeavours in incorporating this principlein ASEAN documents, including the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in theEast Sea (DOC), ASEAN Six-point Principles on the East Sea and the draft Codeof Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

Such contents as international law and UNCLOS for long-termresolution of disputes in the East Sea were included in the agreement on basicprinciples guiding the settlement of sea-related issues signed between Vietnamand China on November 10, 2011. 

Based on the provisions of the UNCLOS, Vietnam haseffectively deployed marine economic development activities in its exclusiveeconomic zone and continental shelf within 200 nautical miles in favour ofnational development. 

Vietnam has been fostering cooperation with relevant partiesin marine environmental protection, search and rescue on sea, natural disasterprevention and implementation of measures to combat crime, contributing to theimplementation of the UNCLOS. 

In addition, Vietnam has participated in developinginternational and inter-regional sea-related mechanisms and legal documentssuch as the Convention on the International Maritime SatelliteOrganization (INMARSAT) and the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System(GMDSS).

The country has also joined the Conventions of the InternationalMaritime Organization.

Source: VNA

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