Oceans and Law of the Sea

Issues related to the workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

    The nineteenth Meeting of States Parties held in June 2009, following the deliberations on the agenda item entitled “Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf: (a) Information reported by the Chairman of the Commission; (b) Workload of the Commission”, adopted an agreed outcome in which it requested “the Secretariat to prepare an update of the note contained in document SPLOS/157, on the basis of the discussions at the nineteenth Meeting of States Parties and any further information provided by States parties and observers, and in due time before the next Meeting, to facilitate a comprehensive review by States parties”. It also decided that “the bureau of the nineteenth Meeting of States Parties [would] facilitate an informal working group to continue consideration of the issues related to the workload of the Commission.”

    On 17 August 2009, pursuant to this request, the Secretariat addressed a circular note verbale to all States Parties and observer States requesting them to provide any information deemed relevant on the matter, preferably by 30 November 2009. In response, the Secretariat received information from Sri Lanka through notes verbales dated 2 and 11 December 2009, and information from Kenya through a note verbale dated 22 February 2010. The Secretariat also received a note verbale from Bangladesh dated 29 March 2010 concerning the note verbale from Kenya.

    The Informal Working Group, facilitated by the Bureau of the nineteenth Meeting of States Parties, continued consideration of the issues related to the workload of the Commission.

    At the request of the Coordinator of the Informal Working Group, the Director of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, provided, by letters dated 20 January and 12 February 2010, preliminary information on budgetary implications relating to the increased workload of the Commission.

     Upon the invitation contained in paragraph 53 of General Assembly resolution 64/71. the Coordinator of the Informal Working Group  transmitted to o the Secretary-General, through a letter dated 15 March 2010, comments in the context of the update of document SPLOS/157.

   The Secretariat has prepared, pursuant to the request of the nineteenth Meeting of States Parties referred-to above, a "Note by the Secretariat", available as document SPLOS/208.

    In April 2010, the Commission decided to accept the invitation by the Coordinator of the Informal Working Group to attend another meeting of that Working Group, which was held on 14 April 2010. The Commission prepared a presentation on its workload* which was delivered on behalf of the Commission by Mr. Galo Carrera, on 14 April.

    In a letter dated 24 April 2010 addressed to the Director of the Division, the Coordinator of the Informal Working Group requested information "on the procedural, administrative and approximate costs and other implications of all the proposals submitted to the Informal Working Group ..." In a letter dated 24 May 2010, the Director transmitted the observations of the Division in relation to the issues raised.

    By a letter dated 25 May 2010 to the Coordinator of the Informal Working Group, the Director of the Division transmitted from the Chairperson of the Commission Responses from the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to the questions posed by the UK and like-minded States, and Brazil through the Informal Working Group, concerning its workload, 19 May 2010.

    On 14 June 2010, the Chairperson of the Commission made a presentation on the workload of the Commission to the twentieth Meeting of States Parties.

    The twentieth Meeting of States Parties decided to continue to address through the informal working group, facilitated by the Bureau of the Meeting of States Parties, the issue of the workload of the Commission, in particular to assess further measures that may be necessary, including, inter alia, the possibility of a full-time Commission, and for the informal
working group to report on its recommendations to the twenty-first Meeting of States Parties in 2011 (
see SPLOS/216 - Decision regarding the workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf). Mr. Eden Charles, Vice-President of the twentieth Meeting of States Parties, will continue as Coordinator of the Informal Working Group facilitated by the Bureau of the Meeting of State Parties.

    On 5 April 2011, a meeting took place between the Informal Working Group and the Commission during whch, on behalf of the Commission, Mr. Carrera delivered a presentation.


   */ As delivered. The designations employed and the presentation of the material do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Publication of information concerning developments relating to the law of the sea emanating from actions and decisions taken by States does not imply recognition by the United Nations of the validity of the actions and decisions in question.


Prepared by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations.

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