Sea law shows Vietnam's commitment to global rules, says minister

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By passing the Law on the Sea of Vietnam, the nation is telling the rest of the world that it is a "responsible" member of the global community that respects international laws, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh has said.

In an interview to the media Monday he said the law, passed by the National Assembly on June 21, states that the Vietnamese government's stance is to resolve maritime disputes through "peaceful measures," respect for national independence and sovereignty, and international laws.

An "important message" that Vietnam is conveying to the world via the law is its commitment to "the peace, stability, cooperation, and development" of the region as well as the world.

"It is the consistent policy of our government. We have and will stick to the policy."

He pointed out that Vietnam has managed to resolve disputes with neighboring countries, like the one over the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in 1997 with Thailand.

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The law also defines Vietnam's waters, including the EEZ and continental shelf, in accordance with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

"Vietnam's sovereignty over the islands, including the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, which have been defined in some previous legal documents like the 2003 National Border Law, is defined clearly in the Law on the Sea in Vietnam."

Under the law, all organizations and individuals have to respect Vietnam's "national jurisdiction over its EEZ and continental shelf.

"Every violation of law relating to Vietnam's seas and islands will be punished."

The Law on the Sea in Vietnam is an "important legislative activity" which the NA passed to complete "the country's legal framework and serve the use, management, and protection of waters and islands," he said.

The first of its kind in Vietnam, which signed the UNCLOS in 1994, the law is "an important legal basis to manage, protect, and develop sea and island economy of the country," he said.

"To draft and pass the Law on the Sea of Vietnam is an essential need for Vietnam's economic development."

Developed from 1998 onwards, it is based on international laws, Vietnam's constitution, and the National Assembly's resolutions, he said.

"During the process of developing the law, we also made reference to countries' circumstances and weighed our benefits as well as the benefits of related parties in the East Sea and the regional benefits."

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