Joint Communiqué of the G7 FMM: Settlement of disputes in the SCS must comply with int’l law

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On 10-11 April 2017, the Foreign Ministers Meeting of the Group of Seven countries (G7) held in Lucca, Italy issued the Joint Communiqué addressing major international issues that impact global peace and security, including maritime security.

The Joint Communiqué of the G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting clearly states as follows:

Maritime Security

We reaffirm our commitment to further international cooperation on maritime security and safety as well as the protection of the marine environment. We are convinced that only a combined effort will allow for a comprehensive response to threats to maritime security and ocean and seas conditions. We are committed to coordinating our actions internationally, regionally and nationally in order to achieve global benefits.

We reiterate our commitment to maintaining a rules-based maritime order based firmly on international law, including as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to peaceful dispute settlement, including through legal means and supported by confidence building measures.

We reiterate our commitment to the freedoms of navigation and over-flight and other rights, freedoms, and internationally lawful uses of the seas.

We remain concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas. We emphasize the fundamental importance of building trust and security and of the peaceful management and settlement of maritime disputes in good faith and in accordance with international law, including through internationally recognized legal dispute settlement mechanisms, including arbitration. We reiterate our strong opposition to any unilateral actions which increase tensions, such as the threat or use of force, large scale land reclamation, building of outposts, as well as their use for military purposes and urge all parties to pursue demilitarization of disputed features and to comply with their obligations under international law. We consider the July 12, 2016 award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal under the UNCLOS as a useful basis for further efforts to peacefully resolve disputes in the South China Sea. We encourage dialogues based on international law towards early finalization of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) and we welcome efforts to advance in this direction. We call for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety.


Image: Internet.

We firmly reiterate our condemnation for acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea, transnational organized crime and terrorism in the maritime domain, trafficking of human beings, smuggling of migrants, trafficking of weapons and narcotics, illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and other illegal maritime activities. We reaffirm the importance of national and regional ownership in pursuing the fight against illegal activities at sea. We commend the work done by the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS), the G7++ Friends of the Gulf of Guinea, the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) and the results achieved by EU, NATO and other multinational naval operations and independent deployers.

We commit to pursuing a more holistic approach to support national and regional efforts and their ownership, which remain key in improving maritime security in the existing critical areas. Regional cooperation mechanisms should continue their activities to enhance maritime security, fully exploiting the scope of their founding instrument.

We will continue our cooperation at national and international level ashore and at sea in order to fight human trafficking and the smuggling of migrants in the maritime domain – and in particular in those areas requiring the highest degree of attention – also safeguarding against any further loss of life at sea.

We are committed to supporting regional maritime security in regions affected by maritime crimes through comprehensive capacity building assistance under existing instruments in areas such as maritime governance, coast guard authorities and functions, disaster relief, maritime search and rescue, and maritime information sharing and integration including Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), as well as efforts to improve legislative, judicial, and prosecutorial capacities.

We welcome the African Union Summit on maritime security and safety and development in Africa, held in October 2016 in Togo, and the Lomé Charter signed on that same occasion. Its further development and implementation will increase the overall maritime ability of the African Union. We also recognize the importance of ensuring free and open seas, including the Mediterranean, the Gulf of Guinea and the Indo-Pacific and enhancing connectivity of the region.

We also welcome the entry into force of the FAO Port State Measures Agreement in June 2016 and we call upon all coastal states to accede to this significant international treaty specifically aimed at tackling IUU fishing.

We welcome and encourage research activities aimed at providing scientific and technological support to enhance maritime security. We support the work of the Preparatory Committee on the development of a future internationally legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

We are committed to supporting cooperation, capacity-building and appropriate access to financial and technical support to help countries realize their priorities while safeguarding the ocean’s health and improving climate resilience in order to ensure conservation and sustainable use of living marine resources including marine biodiversity. We welcome the Italian initiative to host a G7 High Level Meeting on Maritime Security and the EU initiative to host the “Our Ocean” Conference, later this year.”