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UN urges protection of the ocean on World Oceans Day

[JURIST] UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official website] issued a statement [text] Sunday commemorating World Oceans Day [official website] calling on the international community to "commit to keep [the oceans] healthy and productive and to use their resources peacefully, equitably and sustainably for the benefit of current and future generations." The Secretary General emphasized the importance of the world's oceans noting how they regulate the planet's climate, are a significant source of nutrition and provide essential passage for global trade. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, [official website], also issued a statement Sunday urging member nations to "change how we understand, manage and use ocean resources and coastal areas." According to the UN protecting the ocean [UN News Centre report] is seen as a central pillar in crafting a successor post-2015 sustainable development agenda to the Millennium Declaration and its anti-poverty Goals [official website]. The 2014 celebration of World Oceans Day falls on the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea [official website] entering into force. Known as "Constitution for the Oceans," the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a comprehensive legal regime for all ocean activities.

In January the Philippines asked [JURIST report] China to give clarification of new regulations requiring foreign fisherman to obtain approval from China before fishing in large portions of the South China Sea, saying that China is in violation of international law under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and of a 2002 agreement between members of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to maintain the status quo in the South China Sea. In November the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) [official website] ordered the release [JURIST report] of the Greenpeace International [advocacy website] ship Arctic Sunrise as well as the release of the 28 activists and two freelance journalists who were arrested on board the ship, upon payment of a 3.6 million euro bond by the Netherlands.

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