New York [US]: The United Nations Security Council on Monday adopted a statement under India's presidency noting that the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the oceans, including countering illicit activities at sea.
The statement marked the first-ever outcome document by the UNSC on the issue of maritime security, sources said.
The process was not smooth, with one P-5 country holding out till the very end on language related to UNCLOS.
The sources said India's negotiators deserved credit for having been able to find language acceptable to all, without dropping the reference to UNCLOS (which other P-5 countries insisted on retaining).
They said it reaffirmed India's bridging role in the UNSC.
"The Security Council reaffirms that international law, as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets out the legal framework applicable to activities in the oceans, including countering illicit activities at sea," said the statement by the President of Security Council.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the debate on 'Enhancing Maritime Security: A Case for International Cooperation' through a video conference. He is the first Indian PM to chair a meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
He outlined five principles and called for joint efforts to combat natural disasters and maritime threats posed by non-state actors.
"The maritime disputes should be sorted out peacefully and on the basis of international law only. This is very important for mutual trust and confidence. This is the only way we can ensure global peace and stability," he said.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who participated in the high-level debate, said that maritime security is in serious danger especially in the South China Sea.
He said that "the freedom of navigation and overflight and the unimpeded flow of lawful maritime commerce is critical to the security and prosperity of all nations and to global stability."
"Let me speak about some of the critical areas where we see maritime rules and principles under threat, we have seen dangerous encounters between vessels at the South China Sea and provocative actions to advance unlawful maritime claims," the US Secretary of State said.
During the debate, China's deputy permanent representative criticised the US saying that it does not join the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) "but considers itself a judge of the convention pointing fingers at other countries interfere arbitrarily".
China had not accepted or recognized the award rendered on July 12, 2016, by the Arbitral Tribunal in the South China Sea established at the request of Philippines.
China had said that the award is null and void and has no binding force.
Blinken thanked India for its leadership and bringing all the countries together to recommit and strengthen the maritime rules and principles.
The meeting discussed ways to effectively counter maritime crime and insecurity and strengthening coordination in the maritime domain.
The meeting was attended by several heads of state and government of member states of the UNSC, and high-level briefers from the UN System and key regional organizations.