Vietnam delimits its continental shelf in UN report

Published: 07/09/2009 05:00



In a recent report to the UN, Vietnam clarified its claim to parts of its continental shelf beyond the 200-nautical-mile mark. VietNamNet discusses the report with the Foreign Ministry’s senior official.

Vietnam’s sea (Photo: Pham Tuan).

In a recent report to the UN’s Continental Shelf committee, Vietnam clarified its claim to parts of its continental shelf beyond the 200 nautical mile mark. Here VietNamNet discusses the report with the Foreign Ministry’s Nguyen Duy Chien, chief of the Sea Policy Research Division, a unit of the National Border Committee.

Vietnam presents report on continental shelf

VietNamNet: Why has Vietnam submitted of the two reports on the limits of our continental shelf to the United Nations?

Nguyen Duy Chien: Under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Vietnam and all other coastal countries have jurisdiction over their continental shelf extending up to 200 nautical miles (around 370 kilometers) from coastal baselines.

In case that the continental shelf is actually wider than 200 nautical miles, coastal countries have the right to claim continental shelves up to 350 nautical miles. However, the claimed limits of the continental shelf of this kind must be set based on the real geological and geomorphological conditions in each area.

To define these limits, coastal countries were invited to submit their national reports and scientific evidence to the United Nations. Vietnam’s submission is to prove the scope of our continental shelf according to the aforesaid criteria. Certainly we do not claim in excess of 350 nautical miles from our shores.

VietNamNet: Why is UNCLOS, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the legal foundation for our report on Vietnam’s continental shelf?

Chien: Vietnam is an UNCLOS signatory. The submission of national reports is the duty of a member country of this convention.

Besides the UNCLOS, the rules set by the UN Continental Shelf Committee provide a supplementary legal basis because the rules set a deadline for Vietnam and other countries and specified the form of the report. For example, we were required to submit a national report before May 13, 2009. If we had not, we would have lost the right to expand our continental shelf over 200 nautical miles, beyond the automatic limit from our country’s baselines.

On May 6, 2009, Vietnam and Malaysia submitted a joint report on the continental shelves of both countries, which extend out over 200 nautical miles from their baselines in the southern part of the East Sea. On May 7, Vietnam handed in its own national report on the limits of the continental shelf.

Vietnam’s argumentation in the two above reports is based on the UNCLOS, which confirms the legal rights enjoyed by a coastal country that is a member of the convention.

VietNamNet: Could you tell our readers more about the joint report with Malaysia?

Chien: Under UNCLOS and the regulations set by the UN Continental Shelf Committee, coastal countries can submit a comprehensive joint report on their continental shelf and also separate reports for the shelf in each region, because it is difficult for member countries to prepare and send timely reports for their entire continental. Up to now, a few countries have submitted comprehensive joint reports (around 5-6 reports) but most have just sent partial reports.

VietNamNet: What is the next task after sending the national report to the UN Continental Shelf Committee?

Chien: After this stage, the committee will set up a sub-committee with seven members to consider the reports. This sub-committee will submit its suggestions to the committee for consideration and approval.

The UN Continental Shelf Committee has 23 members so it can set up three sub-committees at once. Before Vietnam sent its report to the committee, there were 25 reports that were awaiting consideration.

So I don’t know when the UN Continental Shelf Committee will set up a sub-committee to see Vietnam’s reports.

Xuan Linh

Provide by Vietnam Travel

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