India, Indonesia commit to Unclos

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New Delhi, Dec 12 (IANS) India and Indonesia on Monday affirmed their commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

“Both leaders affirmed that India and Indonesia are maritime neighbours whose relations are rooted in civilisational contacts developed through the seas and who share similar perceptions of the evolving maritime environment in the region and the world at large,” said a joint statement on maritime cooperation issued following delegation-level talks headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Joko Widodo here.

“Both leaders recognized their shared commitment to democracy, pluralistic society, human rights and the rule of law,” it stated

It stated that both Modi and Widodo affirmed the countries’ “deep respect for each other’s contribution to promoting peace, stability and development in the Indian and Pacific Oceans and beyond”.

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“Both leaders committed to maintaining a maritime legal order based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).”

The joint statement assumes significance as several Southeast Asian nations have problems with China over South China Sea.

In July, an international arbitration tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) ruled that China violated the Philippines’ rights in the South China Sea, one of the busiest commercial shipping routes in the world.

The court accused China of interfering with the Philippines’ fishing and petroleum exploration, building artificial islands in the waters and failing to prevent Chinese fishermen from fishing in the zone.

China reacted angrily, calling the verdict null and void with no binding force and that “China neither accepts it nor recognises it”. But Beijing has since decided to go for bilateral talks with Manila.

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India urged all stakeholders to follow the Unclos.

Indonesia, the largest of the Southeast Asian nations, however, does not have any such issue with China.

“Both leaders recognised that India and Indonesia share common interests in ensuring maritime security and the safety of sea lines of communication,” Monday’s joint statement said.

“Both leaders recognised the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight on the high seas, unimpeded lawful commerce, as well as resolving maritime disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with universally recognised principles of international law including the Unclos.”

The statement said Modi and Widodo affirmed the need to combat, prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.

“Both leaders recognised transnational organised fisheries crime as one of the emerging crimes, which has become an ever-growing threat to the world,” it said.

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“Both Leaders agreed to conclude a memorandum of understanding on maritime cooperation between Indonesia and India in order to further strengthen and accelerate maritime cooperation inter alia in maritime safety and security, and promotion of maritime industries, as one of the important pillars towards enhancing the bilateral relationship.”



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