The Open Meeting of the
Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf

1 May 2000, Trusteeship Council, United Nations Headquaters

"UNCLOS and the delineation of the continental shelf:
Opportunities and challenges for States

    The highly complex nature of the Guidelines, which deal with geodetic, geological, geophysical and hydrographic methodologies stipulated in article 76 for the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf, using such criteria as determination of the foot of the continental slope, sediment thickness and types of sea floor highs, led the Commission to take important steps to assist coastal States in applying them, among them was the decision to hold an open meeting, since the Commission generally meets in private (closed) session owing to the nature of its mandate as a scientific and technical expert body.

    The first day of the seventh session of the Commission, held in New York from 1 to 5 May 2000, was devoted to an open meeting, aimed at flagging the most important and challenging issues related to the establishment of the continental shelf beyond 200 miles, in accordance with the legal and scientific requirements of article 76 of the Convention. The meeting was also intended to give a general indication to policy makers and legal advisers of the benefits that a coastal State might derive from the valuable resources of the extended continental shelf and to explain to experts in marine sciences involved in the preparation of submissions how the Commission considered that its Scientific and Technical Guidelines should be applied in practice.

    At the open meeting, the Chairman of the Commission emphasized that the importance of the resources to be derived from the continental shelf were enormous and that in future the shelf area would be the main source of world oil and gas supplies. Offshore oil production in 2000 was estimated at 1.23 billion tons, and natural gas at 650 billion cubic metres. The effect of the provisions of the Convention on the continental shelf was that practically all seabed oil and natural gas resources would fall under the control of coastal States.

    Approximately 100 government officials, members of intergovernmental organizations, legal advisers and experts in marine sciences related to the establishment of an extended continental shelf attended the meeting. (See also the Statement of the Chairman of the Commission, CLCS/21)

    The programme of the meeting was as follows:

1. 10:00-10:15 Opening Statement by the Chairman (Yuri Kazmin) [photos #1, #2, #3) copyright ©United Nations]
2. 10:15-10:45 The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf (Harald Brekke)
3. 10:45-11:00 Questions and answers
4. 11:00-11:30 The mandate and work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) (Peter Croker)
5. 11:30-11:45 Questions and answers
6. 11:45-12:15 Modus Operandi of the CLCS (Samuel Betah, speaker, in collaboration with Andre Chan Chim Yuk)
7. 12:15-12:30 Questions and answers
8. 12:30-13:00 Discussion
9. 13:00-15:00 Lunch
10. 15:00-15:45 Scientific and Technical Guidelines of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (Osvaldo Astiz, K. R. Srinivasan and Mladen Juracic, speakers, in collaboration with Galo Carrera)
15:00-15:15 Chapters 1 to 3 (Astiz and Carrera)
15:15-15:30 Chapters 4 to 6 (Srinivasan and Carrera)
15:30-15:45 Chapters 7 to 9 (Juracic and Carrera)
11. 15:45-16:00 Questions and answers
12. 16:00-16:45 Geographic scope and scientific challenges posed by article 76 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Galo Carrera)
13. 16:45-17:00 Questions and answers
14. 17:00-17:45 An outline for the preparation of a national submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf  (Galo Carrera and Alexandre Albuquerque)
15. 17:45-18:00 Questions and answers

The presentations are contained in a document dated 20 April 2000, entitled “United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Delineation of the Continental Shelf: Opportunities and Challenges for States: Open Meeting of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, Held on 1 May 2000” (14.5 Mb)

More information about the open meeting of the CLCS may be found in documents CLCS/21 and CLCS/26.

Note: These documents are in PDF format and can be read online or printed using the free Adobe® Acrobat® Reader.


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

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