India rejects US contention that its domestic maritime law violates UN convention

4/9/2021

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 India has rejected the US contention that its domestic maritime law is in violation of the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea, and expressed its concerns about a US naval ship entering into Indian waters.

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement, "The government of India's stated position on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is that the Convention does not authorise other states to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and on the continental shelf, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state."

The ministry also stated that the US naval ship, USS John Paul Jones, was continuously monitored transiting from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits. "We have conveyed our concerns regarding this passage through our EEZ to the Government of USA through diplomatic channels," the ministry said.

Earlier, the US had announced Freedom of Navigation Operation in Indian waters in Lakshadweep Islands. The US Navy announced that it carried out a Freedom of Navigation Operation inside India's Exclusive Economic Zone without prior consent.

The US Navy statement said, "On April 7, 2021, USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India's exclusive economic zone, without requesting India's prior consent, consistent with international law."

"India requires prior consent for military exercises or maneuvers in its exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, a claim inconsistent with international law," the statement said.

The US statement further said the freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) upheld the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India's excessive maritime claims.

US forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the US will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, the statement said.

"We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements," it added.

Any activity within 200 km nautical miles, which falls under EEZ or Indian waters, needs prior permission as per Indian laws.

Chinese vessels on the pretext of carrying out research activities in Indian waters have been tracked and sent back in the past.

Source: IANS

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