Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the 28th meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS

Statement by the delegation of Ukraine at the 28th meeting of States Parties to the UNCLOS

Mr. Chair,

Distinguished delegates,

At the outset, we would like to express our appreciation to the Secretary-General and the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for valuable and comprehensive reports.

We would also like to echo one of latest reports of the Secretary-General on Oceans and the Law of the Sea that emphasizes the necessity of full and effective implementation of the legal framework for oceans in the UNCLOS and related instruments at the global, regional and national levels as key to achieving ocean-related objectives and fulfilling respective commitments.

We are absolutely convinced that the UNCLOS plays a key role in maintaining international peace and security, reinforcing friendly relations among States, protecting and preserving the marine environment and ensuring the sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources.

It is rightfully considered by its 168 member-states, including my country, as the constitution of the oceans, which reflects customary international law and establishes the overarching legal framework for all activities in all maritime areas and beyond.

We acknowledge the need for enhancing ocean governance as a fundamental cornerstone for preserving and protecting the marine environment, as well as ensuring peaceful relations between States.

UNCLOS sets forth in Part XV rules for the resolution of disputes between State Parties arising out of the interpretation or application of the Convention. We are certain that the significance of arbitration proceedings in this regard is hard to overestimate.

Mr. Chair,

Since 2014, Russia has unlawfully excluded Ukraine from exercising its maritime rights due to the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

It has exploited Ukraine’s sovereign resources for its own ends; and it has usurped Ukraine’s right to regulate activities within its own maritime areas.

Through these violations of international law, Russia is stealing Ukraine’s energy and fisheries resources, harming the livelihoods of Ukrainian fishermen, and blocking the traffic to Ukrainian ports over the Kerch Strait.

Furthermore, the construction of the bridge across the Kerch Strait fundamentally contradicts generally recognized norms and principles of international law, including international humanitarian law, and grossly violates the UNCLOS.

The Russian Federation has to put an immediate end to the violation of its international obligations by ceasing the construction works and dismantling those parts of that structure located within the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territory, and making reparation for all damage caused by the illegal construction.

In this respect, Ukraine initiated an arbitration proceeding against the Russian Federation under the UNCLOS and on 19 February 2018 filed its Memorial, which establishes that Russia violated Ukraine’s sovereign rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait.

We are asking the Tribunal to stop the Russian Federation from violating the Convention and vindicate Ukraine’s rights in aforementioned maritime areas, including by ordering Russia to respect Ukraine's sovereign rights in its own waters, to cease all unlawful activities, including the theft of Ukraine’s natural resources, in particular hydrocarbon resources, and to pay respective compensation, among other relief.

In this context, acting in good faith, Ukraine is set to take further reasonable steps to resolve the existing dispute with the Russian Federation by peaceful and legal means in order to restore the lawful legal regime of UNCLOS over the maritime areas appertaining to the Crimean Peninsula. We are convinced that the Tribunal will take an appropriate and just decision.