H.E. Ambassador Cho Hyun, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Plenary of the General Assembly
1. My delegation thanks the Secretary-General for his comprehensive report on oceans and the law of the sea. We also commend Mr. Carlos Duarte of Brazil and Ms. Holly Koehler of the United States for their excellent work in coordinating the two resolutions before us.
2. Today, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is widely accepted by the international community. The number of parties to UNCLOS stands at 152, while the number of parties to the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS is 126. Given the centrality of UNCLOS for the governance of oceans and seas, the Republic of Korea attaches great importance to a coherent, integrated and equitable approach to the sustainable management and conservation of the oceans and their resources in accordance with the letter and spirit of UNCLOS.
3. The implementing mechanisms of the Convention ?the International Seabed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf ?have all played important roles. The Republic of Korea has demonstrated its commitment to UNCLOS by actively participating in the work of these organs.
4. The oceans and seas are invaluable to the welfare of humanity, providing living and non-living marine resources and a vital avenue of transportation. However, the world continues to be troubled by piracy and the degradation of marine resources. Maritime safety and security is a serious concern for many seafaring States. In this context, the Republic of Korea is pleased to note that the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will focus its discussions on marine genetic resources in 2007 and on maritime security and safety in 2008.
5. As a country whose economy relies on international trade, the Republic of Korea believes that the right of transit passage should be upheld by all Member States. The Republic of Korea reaffirms the rights and responsibilities of States that border on straits used for international navigation. Furthermore, we believe that all States Parties should seek to preserve the integrity of UNCLOS against any measure that is inconsistent with it.
6. I would like to touch upon the issue of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. The Republic of Korea gives great importance to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. We hope that future discussion on this issue will be made within the framework of UNCLOS and the Convention on Biological Diversity, balancing the protection of marine ecosystems and the sustainable use of marine biodiversity.
7. As a responsible fishing State and as State Party to UNCLOS, the Republic of Korea is seriously concerned by illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. IUU fishing remains one of the greatest threats to marine ecosystems, and its effects continue to have a substantial impact on the conservation and management of ocean resources. The Republic of Korea will work together with other States Parties to take effective measures to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing activities.
8. The Republic of Korea also hopes that the international community will adopt and implement measures for the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, including seamounts, hydrothermal vents and cold-water corals. In this regard, we would like to stress the important roles to be played by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and regional fisheries management organizations in finding solutions to these issues.
9. The international community has long worked together to ensure safe transport and the sustainable use and management of marine resources. The United Nations has been a vital forum for States to engage in constructive dialogue on these important issues. As a responsible maritime State, the Republic of Korea will continue to participate in ensuring sound governance of the oceans and seas.