24 May 2000
OPEN-ENDED INFORMAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS ON OCEAN AFFAIRS, AT
HEADQUARTERS, 30 MAY - 2 JUNE
First Meeting to consider fisheries and pollution issues
In an effort to facilitate the deliberations in the General Assembly on
developments in ocean affairs, and to strengthen international coordination and
cooperation, especially in the sustainable development of the oceans and seas
and their resources, the United Nations will convene from 30 May to 2 June the
first Meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Ocean Affairs
To be held at Headquarters, the informal consultative process will focus this
year primarily on two themes: responsible fisheries and illegal, unregulated and
unreported fishing activities; and the economic and social impacts of marine
pollution and degradation, especially in coastal areas.
It is expected that the consultations will make specific recommendations to
the General Assembly for its consideration in relation to its annual review of
ocean affairs and the law of the sea. It is also anticipated that the
consultations will become an ongoing exercise to assist the Assembly in its
annual review of issues related to oceans.
The United Nations General Assembly has been undertaking an annual review of
all important developments in oceans and the law of the sea, based on a
comprehensive annual report prepared by the Secretary-General. It was felt
recently that there was a need to broaden and deepen the debate in the Assembly
and to further enhance coordination and cooperation in ocean affairs at the
intergovernmental and inter- agency levels.
The UNICPO is intended to carry out three interrelated tasks: (a) to study
developments in ocean affairs consistent with the legal framework provided by
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the goals of chapter 17
of Agenda 21; (b) against the backdrop of overall developments of all relevant
ocean issues, to identify particular issues to be considered by the General
Assembly; and (c) while identifying such issues, to place emphasis on areas
where coordination and cooperation at the intergovernmental and inter-agency
levels should be enhanced.
Following the mandate provided in paragraph 7 of resolution 54/33, the
Secretary-General, working in cooperation with the heads of relevant
organizations of the United Nations, has prepared a report (A/555/61) to UNICPO
to facilitate the discussion and to allow for initiatives that could be
undertaken to improve coordination and cooperation and achieve better
integration on ocean affairs.
It has been emphasized that actions need to take place primarily at the
national level, where a multiplicity of agencies are responsible for
ocean-related matters. Governments, international organizations,
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others need to work together to
develop the required interlinkages.
The two co-chairpersons of UNICPO, Ambassador Tuiloma Neroni Slade (Samoa)
and Alan Simcock (United Kingdom), have drawn up a format for the meeting which,
among others, provides the opportunity to receive inputs from major groups as
identified in Agenda 21. They also presented an annotated agenda for this first
meeting, which identified two areas of focus: Responsible fisheries and illegal,
unregulated and unreported fisheries: Moving from principles to implementation;
and Economic and social impacts of marine pollution and degradation, especially
in coastal areas: International aspects of combating them.
The UNICPO is expected to address how the current forms of consultation and
cooperation, both between the relevant member organizations of the United
Nations system and between the Organization and other international and regional
organizations (particularly regional fisheries organizations), can be
strengthened in order to better respond to the problem of illegal and
unregulated fishing. The problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported
fisheries has been highlighted by the Secretary- General in previous reports to
the General Assembly as one issue that is believed to have an adverse impact on
the sustainable development of developing coastal States.
At the international level, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is
working on an international plan of action to combat illegal, unregulated and
unreported fisheries. The Commission on Sustainable Development has supported
that work and said that it should include the issue of those States which do not
fulfil their responsibilities, under international law, as flag States with
respect to their fishing vessels.
The Global Environment Outlook 2000 (GEO 2000), the most authoritative
assessment of global and regional environmental issues facing the international
community, concluded that the coastal marine environment was clearly affected by
the destruction of habitats, overfishing and pollution. GEO 2000 also concluded
that the coastal area environment was being degraded by agricultural and urban
development, industrial facilities, port and road construction, dredging and
filling, tourism and aquaculture.
GEO 2000 emphasized that many countries depend on sources of income from
activities that would be directly threatened by degradation of the marine
environment. Tourism and fishing were obvious examples of such threatened
In that respect, UNICPO will examine how States can best be helped to
evaluate the economic and social impacts of marine pollution, and whether the
protection of the marine environment has been sufficiently integrated into the
general planning for sustainable development.
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