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UN Security Council open debate Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Maritime Security, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Eva-Maria Liimets

9. August 2021 - 16:48

Mr President,

Allow me to thank India for convening this high-level open debate on maritime security. I thank the distinguished briefers for their insightful interventions.

Estonia welcomes today’s discussion and the adoption of the statement by the President.

Let me start by stating the obvious – the seas and oceans cover more than 70% of the planet. This percentage illustrates how important it is to work on issues related to maritime security. The ongoing pandemic has once again proved the important role of maritime transport in global trade and in the delivery of critical supplies. International maritime security has to ensure a free and peaceful use of the seas and oceans by all nations. Unfortunately, seas and oceans are often used for engaging in illegal and destabilizing activities.

Today, threats to maritime security like piracy and terrorism, as well as indirect threats arising from illegal fishing and climate change − are transnational and interconnected. Estonia is deeply concerned about the continuing incidents in the Persian Gulf, that threaten freedom of navigation, international trade and people’s lives.

Increasing global digitalisation poses new challenges. As dependence on data grows, cybersecurity in maritime issues becomes a true challenge. In light of the spread and misuse of emerging technologies, Estonia emphasises the need to enhance cybersecurity across maritime sectors and increase resilience against cyberattacks. Maritime cybersecurity has become a pressing concern – cyberattacks targeting port or shipping operations have already occurred. Cybercrime has reached the maritime sector by causing problems and delays in port terminals and causing loss of revenues.

Climate change has a negative impact on marine and coastal environment and the wellbeing of populations. Considering that the ocean is the main climate regulator, the international community needs to increase efforts to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, including its Goal 14, and better connect the policies pertaining to green and blue economies.

Maritime security is very multifaceted and is affected, among other factors, by territorial disputes, armed conflicts and transnational organised crime. In order to prevent and eliminate transnational organised crime in maritime settings, further coordination and cooperation across all relevant States and sectors is needed. Capacity building of vulnerable States and timely and accurate information sharing is the key. We thank the UNODC for their work in this field.

Estonia would like to highlight the contribution of the European Union to maritime security through its maritime operations. We welcome the extension of the mandate of the EUNAVFOR Operation ATALANTA to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and the renewal of the authorizations to inspect vessels in the central Mediterranean to prevent violations of the UN arms embargo on Libya. Currently the EU operation IRINI is the only initiative under this mandate. 

Mr President,

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) remains the central and essential framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. Our adherence to the entirety of UNCLOS is crucial. It signals our commitment to upholding international law, promoting a rules-based order and settling disputes amicably.

Finally, I take this opportunity to urge for greater cooperation between states and different agencies in order to prevent and mitigate threats to maritime security, and do so fully in line with international law.

Thank you.

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