United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

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    In News

    • The Central Government reiterated support for the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

    About

    • India committed to safeguarding maritime interests and strengthening security in the Indian Ocean Region.
    • India remained committed to promoting a free, open and rules-based order rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion.

    Government of India stand

    • Maritime interests:
      • The Government of India is committed to safeguarding maritime interests and strengthening security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to ensure a favourable and positive maritime environment.
    • India also supported:
      • Freedom of navigation and overflight.
      • Unimpeded commerce based on the principles of international law, 
        • It is reflected notably in the UNCLOS 1982
      • As a State party to the UNCLOS, India promoted utmost respect for the UNCLOS, which established the international legal order of the seas and oceans.
    • The steps taken include:
      • ‘Mission based Deployments’ of naval ships and aircraft to enhance Maritime Domain Awareness,
      • promote maritime security and 
      • address contingencies that may arise
      • India developed its maritime cooperation with regional partners in consonance with the government’s vision of Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).
    • Multilateral exercises: 
      • India proactively engaged with regional and extra-regional maritime forces through multilateral exercises, joint surveillance, coordinated patrols among others to promote maritime security in the region in an inclusive and cooperative manner.

    UNCLOS

    • UNCLOS is an acronym for the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea. 
    • The convention is also sometimes referred to as the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty. 
    • UNCLOS came into operation and became effective from 16th November 1982.
    • It replaced the four Geneva Conventions of April, 1958, which respectively concerned the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the high seas, fishing and conservation of living resources on the high seas.
    • As per UNCLOS, the sea is divided into 4 parts:
      • Territorial waters
      • Contiguous Zone
      • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
      • Continental Shelf

     

    Challenges

    • Arbitrary interpretation: 
      • It is a matter of concern that UNCLOS is being repeatedly weakened by arbitrary interpretation of its definition by some nations.
    • Power head:
      • There is no one power which can govern all the countries and the latter will abide by it. 
      • Countries follow their own law when going through disputes with other countries.
      • Example, China in the South China Sea.

    Conclusion

    • UNCLOS is accepted as a legal framework for all activities in the Oceans by UNSC which facilitates Cooperation between countries, international organisations and bodies, regional organisations and established international legal instruments.

    Source: TH