Виступ делегації України на пленарному засіданні ГА ООН щодо океанів та морського права

Виступ делегації України на пленарному засіданні ГА ООН щодо океанів та морського права

Madame President,


Distinguished delegates,

The Delegation of Ukraine aligns itself with the statement delivered by the Delegation of the European Union and would like to make a statement in its national capacity.

Today Ukraine is pleased to join many others in co-sponsoring draft resolutions entitled “Oceans and the law of the sea” and “Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments”.

We compliment excellent facilitation of the process demonstrated by coordinators.

The marine environment continues to be a matter of our serious concern due to climate change, marine- and land-based human activities, marine debris, over- and illegal unreported and unregulated fishing.

All abovementioned factors increase pressure on marine ecosystems leading to their gradual degradation.

Thus, it is of paramount importance for international community to pay more attention to these problems and take concrete steps to address them. In this regard, we would like to echo the latest report of the UN Secretary-General on Oceans and the Law of the Sea that emphasizes that much greater efforts are necessary by Member States to achieve the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 14, including through enhanced international cooperation and coordination and increased capacity-building and transfer of technology to developing States and that, in order to be cohesive, effective and longlasting such efforts must be undertaken within the context of the legal framework set out by the UNCLOS.

Madame President,

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

Ukraine is committed to achieving healthy and productive oceans and seas in order that they continue to support sustainable development for the good of all humanity. Ukraine fully respects all provisions of the Law of the Sea Convention and implements it in good faith.

UNCLOS provides Ukraine with exclusive rights to the living resources within its territorial sea and exclusive economic zone. Since 2014, the Russian Federation has deliberately and blatantly violated those rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

The Convention requires States parties to settle any dispute between them concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention by peaceful means. Consistent with Article 33 of the UN Charter and Article 279 of UNCLOS, Ukraine has striven to peacefully resolve its dispute with Russia.

In this connection, I would like to update you on arbitral proceedings instituted by Ukraine against the Russian Federation. On 16 September 2016, Ukraine served on the Russian Federation a Notification and Statement of Claim under Annex VII to the UNCLOS referring to a dispute concerning coastal state rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait.

On 19 February 2018, Ukraine filed a Memorial with the UNCLOS Tribunal establishing that Russia has violated Ukraine’s sovereign rights in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait. Ukraine’s Memorial showed that, since 2014, Russia has unlawfully excluded Ukraine from exercising its maritime rights; it has exploited Ukraine’s sovereign resources for its own ends; and it has usurped Ukraine’s right to regulate 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 traffic to Ukrainian ports with its illegal bridge over the Kerch Strait, among other serious violations.

On 31 August 2018, the Tribunal hearing Ukraine’s case against the Russian Federation under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea published a procedural order determining that it would rule on certain jurisdictional objections raised by the Russian Federation in a preliminary phase of the proceedings.

Ukraine does not believe that the Russian Federation’s jurisdictional objections are plausible or that they will be accepted by the Tribunal.

On 27 November 2018 Ukraine filed its written observations on Russia’s preliminary objections.

Unfortunately, today’s reality is that Russia has continued its unlawful actions in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait, and it has aggravated its dispute with Ukraine. By illegal construction of a bridge across the Kerch Strait, this state violated numerous provisions of UNCLOS, including those pertaining to Ukraine’s rights in its territorial sea, Russia’s obligations to protect the marine environment, and Russia’s obligation not to impede transit passage through the Kerch Strait — a busy and narrow stretch of water connecting the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, and to Ukraine’s ports at Mariupol and Berdyansk.

Moreover, since 29 April 2018, Russia has engaged in a new campaign to interfere with Ukraine’s rights in the Sea of Azov by conducting stoppage of vessels in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov. In a relatively short period, more than 200 vessels have been discriminately stopped by Russia in violation of fundamental obligation under UNCLOS not to hamper or impede transit passage through an international strait.

Russian Federation did not stop on that and engaged in new horrible violations of UNCLOS. Just 2 weeks ago, Russia attacked, seized and detained Ukrainian navy vessels in Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone.

On 27 November 2018 in a letter submitted to the international tribunal Ukraine described Russia’s ongoing pattern of harassment against Ukrainian and international vessels seeking to transit the Kerch Strait and navigate to Mariupol, Berdyansk, and other Ukrainian ports.

Russia’s actions effectively closed the Kerch Strait to all vessels, resulting in protests not only by Ukraine, but also by authorities representing other Black Sea littoral States. The European Union and Turkey both insisted on freedom of passage through the Strait.

Ukraine believes that Russia must and will be held accountable for its serious breaches of the international law of the sea.

Madame President,

The Russian Federation pursues the policy of legitimizing the attempted annexation of Crimea by using different subversive tactics and strategies. One of them is through the International Maritime Organization.

Russia’s claim of responsibility for implementation of International Maritime Organization instruments in the maritime areas adjacent to the Crimean peninsula cannot be regarded as properimplementation of IMO instruments and do not bear any legal consequences.

Furthermore, Russia’s reckless unilateral actions, such as unlawful practices regarding the certification of seafarers and registration of ships in the occupied Crimea, Russia’s attempts to claim its control over Ukraine’s search and rescue assets in the occupied Crimea have only turned the northern part of the Black Sea into a grey zone for international shipping.

The detailed reports on threats to the safety and security of navigation in the maritime areas adjacent to the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine, have been provided by Ukraine on a semi-annual basis since 1 January 2017 and circulated by the IMO Secretariat in accordance with the decision of the Maritime Safety Committee.

Given the significant uncertainty of this situation and its considerable implications for the safety and security of navigation, Ukraine strongly urges all States to ensure that ships entitled to fly their flag take into account the above-mentioned reports on threats to the safety and security of navigation, circulated by the IMO Secretariat, when operating in the northern part of the Black Sea.

Ukraine further calls upon all States and international organizations to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing the Russian Federation’s unilateral actions that preclude Ukraine from carrying out its international obligations under applicable treaties and conventional instruments.

Madame President,

The ability of States to maximize benefits from oceans and seas and develop a sustainable ocean-based economy depends on maintaining and enhancing the security of maritime spaces. Given that, we condemn the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea, transnational organized crime and terrorism in the maritime domain, trafficking in persons, smuggling of migrants, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other maritime activities that threaten global stability, security and prosperity. In this regard, we strongly believe that coordinated and integrated approach to all ocean-related issues at the global, regional and national levels is an imperative.

In conclusion, we would like to express our gratitude to the Secretariat and to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for their work and constant support during the year.

I thank you.