New York

08 June 2012

Welcoming Remarks at Roundtable Panel Discussion "the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea at 30"

Happy World Oceans Day.

I am delighted to join you to mark both World Oceans Day and the thirtieth anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The “Constitution of the Oceans” has given the world real results.

The Convention set up the three institutions represented here today. Each is active in its field, dealing with the settlement of disputes … the continental shelf … and the international seabed.

In addition, the Convention provided the legal framework to settle disputes through the International Court of Justice or through arbitration.

The treaty has proved the truth of its preamble, which states that the Convention has historic significance as “an important contribution to the maintenance of peace, justice and progress for all peoples of the world.”

Unfortunately, humankind has not returned the favour.

Countries and companies use oceans as dumping grounds for millions of tons of waste, some of it toxic and hazardous. Fisheries are depleted. Climate change worsens this assault.

We will have an opportunity to address these urgent problems when the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development opens in less than two weeks.

This will be a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shape the future we want.

At Rio+20, I expect all partners to take steps to improve the management and conservation of oceans. We need to curb overfishing … better protect the marine environment … and cut pollution.

In this effort, we can learn from three decades of experience with the Convention, which should continue to be our guide in establishing the rule of law on the world’s oceans and seas.

That is why I am so eager to hear from the experts in the room. I hope you can help us identify ways to better use this treaty for sustainable development.

This would be the best way to mark the Convention’s thirtieth anniversary and World Oceans Day.

In that spirit, I wish you great success.

Thank you very much.