12/12/2002
Press Release
GA/10122



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

74th Meeting (AM)


STRONGER MEASURES TO PROTECT MARINE ENVIRONMENT FROM TANKER


ACCIDENTS URGED, AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ENDS SEA LAW DEBATE


Spain Calls for ‘Polluter Must Pay’ Principle; Texts Adopted on Ocean

Management, Negative Fishing Practices, Cooperation on Migratory Fish Stocks


Concluding its consideration of oceans and the law of the sea, the General Assembly this morning adopted three resolutions, one by vote and the other two, on fishing practices and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, by consensus.  The resolution entitled “Oceans and the Law of the Sea” was adopted by 132 votes in favour to one against (Turkey) and two abstentions (Venezuela and Colombia).  For details of vote see Annex. (A comparable text last year was adopted by 121 votes in favour with Turkey against and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela abstaining.)


Among closing speakers in the debate, the representative of Spain discussed the recent tanker accident off the coast of his country.  He called for stronger measures to protect the marine environment and an international system of compensation in compliance with the “pollute pays” principle.  The representative of Morocco said the disaster should incite the countries of the region to increase their vigilance.


By its resolution on oceans and law of the sea, the General Assembly urged States, in a number of provisions, to protect and preserve the marine environment, to prevent pollution -- particularly from land-based sources -- and to prevent criminal acts such as piracy, armed robbery and the trafficking in migrants. 


The Assembly further decided to establish, by 2004, a regular process under the United Nations for the global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment.  Moreover, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to establish an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system.


In its resolution on various negative fishing practices, the Assembly urged all States to apply widely the precautionary approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and encourage them to apply by 2010 the ecosystem approach. 


It also urged States to develop and implement national and regional plans of action to put into effect by 2004 the International Plan of Action of the Food and

Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and to establish effective monitoring, reporting and

enforcement and control of fishing vessels and to eliminate subsidies that contribute to such activities and to over-capacity.


Finally, by the terms of the resolution on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, the Assembly urged all States, and entities referred to in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and in article 1, paragraph 2 (b), of the Agreement, to pursue cooperation in relation to straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and urged them to ensure the effective conservation, management and long-term sustainability of such stocks.


In addition, it called on all States to ensure that their vessels comply with the conservation and management measures that have been adopted by subregional and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements in accordance with relevant provisions of the Convention and of the Agreement.


As the debate wound up, some speakers said the continued relevance of the Assembly’s consideration of this item was highlighted by the recent disaster involving the tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Spain.  The representative of Spain said the case shed light once again on the need to develop guidelines on places of refuge for ships in distress, places which should be located far away from populated zones and fishing or tourist areas.  For that reason, Spain had supported the development of those guidelines in the framework of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), together with the requirement of financial security for vessels asking for shelter. 


In the aftermath of the accident, he said, it was essential to make progress towards the development of measures to promote the safety of maritime navigation and the protection of the marine environment against pollution.  Spain had also proposed a series of measures to strengthen maritime safety and to prevent pollution in the framework of both the European Union and the IMO.


On the same subject, the representative of Morocco said the disaster should incite the countries of the region, whose coasts were frequently visited by ships of all sizes and origins, to increase their vigilance to ensure strict compliance with relevant security norms by all those who use the sea route off their coasts. 


Statements were also made by the representatives of Indonesia, Honduras, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, Australia, New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago, Malta, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Russian Federation, Chile, Pakistan, Sierra Leone and Nepal.


Statements also came from the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority and representatives of the International Hydrographic Organization and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.


The Assembly will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 16 December, to take action on outstanding draft resolutions.


Background


The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its consideration of its agenda item on oceans and the law of the sea.  (For detailed background information, see Press Release GA/10120 of 10 December 2002.)


Statements

JONNY SINAGA (Indonesia) said that the true success of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea lay in the commitment of Member States to abide fully by its commitments.  The full realization of the Convention required the widest possible participation by the global community, going beyond the present time to serve the interests of future generations in reaping the immense benefits of the oceans, while protecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.  In this regard, the progress made in advancing international cooperation should be underscored; the present system of cooperation included projects and programmes at all levels –- global, interregional, regional, subregional and bilateral.

As an archipelagic state, he said, Indonesia had consistently attached the utmost importance to questions related to the law of the sea, he said.  Since its ratification of the Law of the Sea Convention, Indonesia had made it its priority to adopt new, and update existing legislation, in conformity with its provisions.  Furthermore, rapid advances in science and technology offered new opportunities to tap the resources of the seas and to face the challenges of preserving the marine environment, while ensuring that ocean resources were managed in a sustainable manner.  Those objectives could be achieved through striking the right balance between the needs of nature and humankind.

Aware of the fragility of the ecosystem in its waters, Indonesia had worked, he added, to ensure that its surrounding waters were utilized in an integrated and sustainable way, to maintain environmental quality and to provide the maximum benefit for its national development.  In this context, the regional approach was significant for the promotion of cooperation in marine affairs, as were the commitments adopted at the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  However, it was important to reiterate the need for technical cooperation in assisting developing countries to meet their responsibility and to enhance the capacity to participate in fishing endeavours in a sustainable manner.


MARCO A. SUAZO (Honduras) said that his country had ratified the Convention in 1993 and it had entered into force in 1994.  The twentieth anniversary of the Convention was an opportunity to celebrate an unparalleled achievement in international maritime regulation.  The Convention, along with the establishment of the International Seabed Authority and the Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, was an unprecedented achievement.  He noted that as of January, Honduras would be part of the Council of the Seabed Authority. 


Honduras had followed with great interest the development and progress of the Convention, he said.  It had begun to implement its provisions in all areas regarding the delimitation of its maritime boundaries.  It had also participated in all the negotiating processes with complete commitment to international law.  Honduras had also been involved in advanced maritime delimitation negotiations with Cuba and had established preliminary contacts with Mexico.  If a conflict

arose between his Government’s Constitution and international law, the Constitution stipulated that international law would prevail.  He fully supported draft resolution A/57/L.48/Rev.1.


OLUSEGUN AKINSANYA (Nigeria) said the Convention remained one of the greatest achievements of the United Nations.  In his country steps were being taken to accede to the 1995 Agreement relating to Fish Stocks.  As a coastal State, Nigeria saw the urgent need for the implementation of Part XII of the Convention, in order to protect and preserve the marine environment.  The relevant national agencies in Nigeria, such as the Niger-Delta development Commission, had been collaborating to preserve the marine environment by monitoring pollution and the dumping of toxic, radioactive and chemical substances, as well as oil spillage.


To achieve the delicate balance between development and the environment, he added, Nigeria and other countries within the Gulf of Guinea had established a Commission to ensure a regulated and sustainable exploitation of the marine resources of the area.  Since many developing countries lacked the expertise necessary to combat pollution and toxic and chemical waste dumping, Nigeria could appreciate the value of Article 202 of the Convention, which required States with the relevant technology to render assistance to developing countries.  It prized the various Trust Funds established under the Convention for the benefit of the developing countries.


BOB F. JALANG’O (Kenya) said he attached great importance to the Fish Stocks Agreement, the wide implementation of which would provide sustainable exploitation of fisheries.  He favoured that approach as it benefited the coastal communities whose livelihoods depended on fishing.  Consensus reached in other world forums on sustainable fisheries, such as in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, should be implemented fully and frankly by all that were concerned.  Illegal unregulated fishing should not be allowed, since it affected the right of coastal states in the exclusive economic zones and the high seas.


He said he supported the improvements made at the last session of the International Seabed Authority on the trust fund to meet travel costs to enable members of the finance, legal and technical committees from developing countries to attend the meetings.  That should be permanently established as it would provide inclusive discussions on the subjects before the Authority.


He said the Convention on the Law of the Sea provided for peaceful as well as compulsory means of dispute settlement through the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  However, when that was not forthcoming, the Tribunal was well placed by the Convention to consider binding decisions on the interpretation and implementation of the Convention.


FRED BEYENDEZA (Uganda) said the sea law Convention, to which his country became a State party in 1990, was an outstanding model of international treaty-making.  Because of the work of the specialized agencies, Uganda had been able to access information and receive guidance on issues pertinent to its particular situation as a landlocked developing country, and was also able to participate in international meetings.  Uganda welcomed the establishment of the Trust Fund which would facilitate developing countries and small island States in the preparation of their submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  That fund would help them cover the costs for training personnel.

He said Uganda also appreciated the various workshops, training courses and symposia carried out this year.  It fully supported the establishment of an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system.  In keeping with the recommendation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on capacity-building and the integrated management and sustainable use of fisheries, Uganda -- acting in conjunction with her East African Community partners -- was currently engaged in regional integration in sustainable fishing in Lake Victoria.


JOHN DAUTH (Australia) said the prominence afforded issues related to the oceans at the World Summit on Sustainable Development indicated how far the international community had come in its consideration of those issues in the last 20 years.  The Summit provided a detailed blueprint for action at the national, regional and global levels, to ensure marine environmental protection and the conservation and sustainable management of the world’s oceans. 


Australia, he said, was taking action to put in place a framework for integrated oceans management.  Work on the draft of the first regional marine plan was nearly complete.  That would usher in a new era of governance for one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world and provide the basis for biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable management of all Australia’s ocean areas.  There had also been significant developments in the Pacific region, as outlined by Fiji, on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum.


He said the informal consultative process of the United Nations on oceans had made a major contribution to the General Assembly’s consideration of oceans, deepening understanding of key issues and facilitating better implementation of the convention.  The establishment of an effective inter-agency coordination mechanism to ensure an integrated approach to oceans governance was anticipated.  Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing represented a serious threat to the sustainability of many of the world’s fisheries.  All States needed to work together against it.  The international community must act against those States that had not implemented existing international obligations and whose flag vessels and nationals supported or engaged in such fishing practices.  The international community should develop and apply fair, transparent and non-discriminatory measures to penalize "free-rider" States and prevent such fishing.


ELANA GEDDIS (New Zealand) said the effective integrated management of ocean and coastal areas, and of fisheries resources, including the protection of marine biodiversity, continued to be areas of importance and concern to her country.  As a coastal State with a large area of marine space, New Zealand was aware of the many interrelated impacts of the uses of the ocean on its environment.  Accordingly, it welcomed the recognition at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg of the need to establish a representative network of “marine protected areas”, in order to provide full protection for thousands of species that made their home in the sea and its habitats.


She said there was also need to take new approaches to the management of ocean and fishing activities; in that spirit New Zealand, together with Australia and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), would host an international conference on “Deep Sea 2003” next year to identify and discuss issues of the science, governance and management of deep-sea fisheries.  The conservation of fisheries resources was of such importance and concern that it was clear their effective management was both an interest and responsibility for all States.  The balance of interest and responsibility between coastal and distant water fishing States contained in the Convention on the Law of the Sea provided the legal framework for the management of fish stocks at both the national and regional levels.


She added that, seriously concerned by the growing prevalence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, both in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, New Zealand put a high priority on fighting that activity.  It needed the cooperation of all States, and the nationals and companies of those States engaged in such illegal fishing.  Her country continued to work towards an integrated domestic oceans policy that would provide an overarching framework to guide the regulation and management of activities in the country’s waters.  A similar integrated approach was also necessary at the global level, she said, adding that she strongly supported the conclusion of the Johannesburg Summit that it was necessary to establish an equivalent inter-agency coordination mechanism within the United Nations.


MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said that his country had participated actively in the elaboration of the Law of the Sea in all its aspects.  While its ratification of the Convention had not yet taken place, for purely circumstantial reasons, Morocco had scrupulously respected all its concrete provisions.  In particular, all precautionary measures were taken by the authorities and concerned bodies to ensure that the exploitation of renewable and non-renewable marine resources was undertaken in conformity with international conservation and protection norms. 


He felt that the recent disaster involving the tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Spain should incite the countries of his region, whose coasts were frequently visited by ships of all sizes and origins, to increase their vigilance to ensure strict compliance with relevant security norms by all those who use the sea route off their coasts.  Morocco had shown its full solidarity with Spain following the disaster, and had adhered to the principles of the joint French-Spanish declaration adopted in Malaga last November to promote a number of preventive measures with respect to ships transporting dangerous materials. 


PHILIP SEALY (Trinidad and Tobago) said the goal of making the Convention on the Law of the Sea universal had not been fully realized; several States which had played a major role in shaping many of its provisions, and which had benefited or stood to benefit from its implementation, were yet to become Parties to it.  He said he urged them to do so, so that all the Convention’s responsibilities, rights and obligations became binding on all States worldwide.


He said the lack of internationally agreed maritime boundaries also had the potential to generate conflict among neighbouring States.  The establishment of a State’s maritime boundaries could not be done unilaterally, through national legislation, but should be the result of bilateral negotiations in good faith, or through recourse to other peaceful means for the settlement of disputes recognized by international law.  In that regard, Trinidad and Tobago would continue to engage in bilateral negotiations with its neighbouring island States for fair and equitable maritime boundary agreements that respected the rights and interests of the coastal States concerned.


On delimitation within the Caribbean Sea region, he said he welcomed the initiative of Mexican President Vicente Fox, which had led to the conference of littoral Caribbean States on maritime delimitation in Mexico City in May.  The objective of the conference was to facilitate the voluntary undertaking of maritime boundary delimitation negotiations between relevant coastal States of the region. 


He said the establishment of a Caribbean-focused Trust Fund in that connection was an important positive outcome of the conference, and he urged Governments able to do so to continue to finance the Trust Fund.  He expressed the hope that all mankind, and in particular developing States, would soon derive the benefits of the exploration and exploitation of the mineral riches of the international seabed.


WALTER BALZAN (Malta) said that the three institutions, established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, were up and running satisfactorily.  Their comparatively limited workload did not suggest that they had been set up prematurely.  Instead, too many international setups had been established in reaction to crisis situations; much time had been wasted in trying to catch up with events and in putting fires out rather than preventing them.  Malta preferred the early development of “architecture” to deal with forthcoming challenges, rather than waiting for conflicts to arise before writing the rulebook. 


He said the informal consultative process of the United Nations on oceans and the law of the sea had allowed for a true cross-fertilization of ideas between national experts, relevant international organizations, non-governmental organizations and national agencies.  This had opened the door to practical cooperation and coordination and highlighted both the needs and opportunities for capacity-building.  Thus, Malta was pleased that the mandate and format of the process had been confirmed for an additional three years.


During the Assembly’s general debate, he recalled, Malta’s Foreign Minister had condemned those trafficking in human beings in the Mediterranean.  Since September, his country had witnessed an upsurge in the number of landings of vessels over-crowded with exhausted and desperate immigrants.  Although Malta had sought to treat them humanely, the sheer numbers involved had stretched its resources to the limit.  It was time for the international community to stifle this inhumane industry and tackle its multi-faceted legal and humanitarian issues.  Comprehensive long-term solutions -- in conjunction with measures to tackle the underlying causes of human trafficking, such as poverty, desperation and hopelessness -– were needed.


INOCENCIO F. ARIAS (Spain) said that in the face of the recent accident of the tanker “Prestige” off the coast of Spain, his country had deemed it necessary to underline the special responsibility of the flag States regarding the compliance of their vessels with maritime safety rules.  Further, since evidence showed that the control measures by certain flag States were presently not satisfactory, he supported the proposals aimed at enabling the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to oversee, as soon as possible, the control exercised by flag States.  It was well known that even though the “Prestige” had valid navigation certificates, the accident was caused by the lack of resistance in the vessel’s hull design.


The “Prestige” case, he said, underlined the need to develop guidelines on places of refuge for ships in distress, places which should be located far away from populated zones and fishing or tourist areas.  Also, such places should be equipped with adequate means for rescue operation and the fight against pollution.  For that reason, Spain had supported the development of those guidelines in the framework of the IMO.


In the aftermath of the accident, he said, it was essential to make progress towards the development of measures to promote the safety of maritime navigation and the protection of the marine environment against pollution.  Spain had proposed a series of measures to strengthen maritime safety and to prevent pollution in the framework of both the European Union and the IMO.  Also, the international system of compensation for damages caused by hydrocarbon pollution must be updated in compliance with the “polluter pays principle”, speeding up procedures, shortening deadlines for payment of compensation, and setting sufficiently high indemnity levels so as to face the potential risks of maritime transportation of hydrocarbons.


ALOUNKEO KITTIKHOUN (Lao People’s Democratic Republic), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said those countries had special needs and problems, because their geographic location denied them territorial access to the sea.  They thus had to face the problem of prohibitive transit transport costs, hindering their effective participation in global trade and consequently hampering their development.  In that context, he said, the international community should give due attention and provide assistance to those States in their pursuit of socio-economic development.


In implementing the Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said, account should be taken of the legitimate concerns of transit countries, their right of access to the sea as well as their interests in sharing sea-based resources as a common heritage of mankind.  In doing so, the Group called on the international community to assist them in building necessary economic, legal, navigational, scientific and technical capacities, in order to enable its members to effectively participate in the present “oceans-and-seas” regime.


DMITRY A. LOBACH (Russian Federation) reiterated his country’s firm support for the legal regime established by the sea law Convention, which had provided a universal order for maritime affairs.  The Convention was designed to ensure a truly equitable order in maritime affairs and contribute to peace and security among States.  He believed that the entry into force of the Fish Stocks Agreement would be a high priority in the current thrust of cooperation.  Also, he welcomed the fact that the Assembly would, in the future, combine matters on oceans and law of the sea in one resolution. 


It was undeniable that the Commission on the Continental Shelf had complex challenges before it, he noted.  He disagreed with those who thought it was not yet time for States to present claims to the Commission.  He was convinced that the procedure developed by the Commission had made it possible to consider claims.  In December 2001, his Government had submitted a claim to the Commission, reflecting many years of multidisciplinary research by Russian scientists.  In preparing that submission, it had pulled together a tremendous amount of information from researchers in the Arctic over a period of 40 years.


The Commission had deemed that the submission had not met the requirements and had requested further information, he said.  His Government would work with the Commission to provide that information.  At the same time, he noted the inappropriateness of inflated requirements.  What was needed was a multilateral approach and clear criteria based on scientific information.  He supported the adoption of the three draft resolutions before the Assembly.  

PEDRO ORTUZAR (Chile) said the Convention represented a genuine constitution for the seas, and it embodied principles traditionally upheld by Chile.  For instance, the notion of an exclusive economic zone dovetailed with a proclamation made by the President of Chile in 1947 which was later reflected in the Santiago Declaration of 1952, signed originally by Chile, Ecuador and Peru and, later, by Colombia.  Another such principle was the continental shelf granted to coastal States.


Noting that 141 States had ratified the Convention, he said that augured well for international cooperation to promote international peace and security and the sustainable development of States.  Such cooperation would be particularly beneficial to combat the illegal trafficking of drugs, arms and persons by sea routes.  He was equally concerned about the impact of indiscriminate fishing on the high seas and its effects on coastal States.  In that regard, he mentioned that the Member States of the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific had, in 2000, signed the Agreement on the Conservation of Living Resources in the High Sea, also known as the Galapagos Agreement.  He expressed concern about the transport of hazardous waste through the region, and called for stricter compliance with norms and standards that applied to security.


ROSS MASUD (Pakistan) said more than two billion people in the world were living in poverty.  Whereas the tremendous resources of oceans and seas had provided hope for many of those two billion who lived in coastal States, the threat of depletion of fisheries because of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing had “cast a spell of despair”.  Poor fishermen of the developing countries, in fact, faced that prospect without having tapped even a little of those resources.  More than 70 died every day, through lack of experience with off-shore fishing operations and knowledge of issues such as navigation, weather forecasting, communications and safety. 


One of the major contributions of the Convention, he said, was the development of the concept of the exclusive economic zone and recognition of the sovereign rights of coastal States over the living and non-living resources within that area.  The activities so far of the International Seabed Authority indicated that exploitation of the resources of the high seas beyond national jurisdiction was not likely to materialize in the near future.  On the other hand, abundant resources of the exclusive economic zone were within the reach of the developing coastal States. 


He said there was still a need for a more focused approach towards optimum development of living and non-living resources of the zone for the benefit of the poor of those countries.  The United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea could develop a proposal in that connection, along with the FAO, for optimum exploitation of such resources and to devise measures to check illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. 


ALLIEU I. KANU (Sierra Leone) said the Convention on the Law of the Sea was a major step towards cooperation among nations in the preservation of the environment and in the promotion of an international economic order that took the special interests and needs of the developing countries into account.  Its almost universal acceptance was evidence of international law.  It was also a major effort to strengthen peace, security, cooperation and friendly relations among all nations on international maritime matters.


However, he said, it was regrettable that developing countries often lacked the resources to implement the provisions of the Convention, particularly those aimed at fostering scientific research to address satisfactorily the preservation of the maritime environment and the prevention and control of marine pollution.  To that end, he thanked those countries that had provided educational and technical assistance to developing and least developed countries, and appealed to other countries with the capacity to do so, to join in that effort. 


He reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the principles and goals of the Convention, and said he welcomed the entry into force of the Agreement for the implementation of the provisions of the Convention relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.  He stressed the need for the full implementation of the Convention’s provisions on international cooperation in maritime scientific research for peaceful purposes and the respect of the sovereignty and jurisdiction of States.


RAM BABU DHAKAL (Nepal) said that much progress had been achieved in the institutionalization of cooperation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The three institutions, established by the Convention, were operational; meetings of States parties had been held regularly; and the consultative process had provided the opportunity for annual review of the implementation of the Convention, as well as the status of international law of the sea.


However, the formidable challenges that States, particularly developing and least-developed states, continued to face in implementing the Convention needed to be kept in mind.  Factors such as their lack of knowledge and limited capacity had inhibited developing countries.  The international community should focus its attention on critical issues, such as assisting land-locked developing and least-developed States to achieve their optimal benefit from the provisions of the Convention.  In the current situation, constraints such as their lack of territorial access to the sea and the prohibitive cost of transport seriously impacted the development of landlocked developing countries. 


The sea law Convention had provided for access to the sea and the right of transit for landlocked countries, he added.  In this regard, he expressed the hope that the forthcoming ministerial meeting on transit/transport cooperation would provide an opportunity to make further progress in developing efficient transit/transport systems.  It was now time for all States to join forces for the effective implementation of the Convention.


KENNETH BARBOR, Director of the International Hydrographic Bureau, speaking on behalf of the International Hydrographic Organization, said since its establishment in 1921 the organization had sought to expand the quality and coverage of navigational charts and services available to its member States.  Its technical and policy committees provided forward-leaning guidance and essential standardization of data format, hydrographic techniques and products.  The organization had 15 regional hydrographic commissions that spanned the globe and permitted responsive coordination, assistance and regional focus to its work.  That work facilitated the effective and efficient use of the seas as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


He pointed out that the hydrographic data which his organization collected were fundamental to protecting the marine environment, since the availability of accurate, up-to-date and understandable nautical charts was critical to safe navigation and the prevention of accidents at sea.  Additionally, modern hydrographic surveys collected sufficient information to delineate action plans for special areas and particularly sensitive sea areas requiring extraordinary environmental monitoring and enforcement.  Its services were available to both Member and non-member States so they could articulate the requirements of a national hydrographic service.  The regional commissions, he went on, focused on ensuring cooperation and capacity-building among all States of their regions and he mentioned that his organization enjoyed close partnerships with the International Maritime Organization and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.


Mr. WAUGH of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources said the Union had long acknowledged the sea law Convention as the jurisdictional framework for conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity and protection of the marine environment.  It provided a solid foundation for strengthening international cooperation and equity in ocean use and improving the means to ensure that present and future generations benefited from commonly-owned resources.  The Union was pleased with the development and work on the Law of the Sea but felt that more was needed to implement some of the provisions.  It believed that an ecosystem-based approach, like large marine ecosystems, was an important tool in oceans management. 


In keeping with the ecosystem approach, the Union was a strong supporter of regional approaches to ocean assessment and management, and in that respect fully endorsed the call for States to develop regionally-shared goals and timetables and strengthened regional arrangements for the application of marine science and technology.  He underscored the importance of strengthened regional arrangements that promoted integrated marine, coastal and watershed management; joint initiatives to address shared problems; and well-coordinated domestic and international support focused on needs and priorities defined in each region. 


He also welcomed the call for the establishment of representative networks of marine-protected areas by 2012, based on sound science and consistent with international law.  Marine-protected areas formed a vital component of an ecosystem-based management approach. 


NII ODUNTON, speaking for SATYA N. NANDAN, Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, said one of the main areas of focus for the Authority was to promote and encourage the conduct of marine scientific research, and to coordinate and disseminate the results of such research.  The Authority had already firmly established a role for itself as a forum for cooperation and coordination of marine scientific research through its programme of scientific and technical workshops.  It was continuing to build on that by developing joint research programmes with leading institutions.


He urged those Member States that had not yet done so to pay their contributions to the administrative budget of the Authority in full and on time.  Payment of dues alone, however, was not sufficient to ensure the proper functioning of the Authority.  It was important to recognize that the institutions established under the Convention could not function properly without the support and participation of all States Parties or Members. 


In the case of the Seabed Authority, such participation was unfortunately lacking, he said.  Over the past few sessions, the Authority had not been able to obtain a quorum at the meetings of its Assembly, which threatened the ability of the Authority to take important decisions.  Unfortunately, at this year’s session of the Assembly a general debate on future directions for the Authority did not benefit from broad participation owing to poor attendance.


Action on Drafts


Presenting the programme budget implications for the draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea, the representative of the Secretariat said that should the General Assembly adopt the resolution, no additional appropriation would be required.  The conference-servicing requirements for 2004 and 2005 would be included in the context of the preparation of the proposed programme budget for the biennium 2004-2005.


Speaking in explanation of vote, TEOMAN UYKUR (Turkey) said his country would vote against the draft resolution oceans and the law of the sea, as some of the elements contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which had prevented Turkey from approving the Convention, had been retained in this year's draft resolution.  Turkey supported international efforts to establish a regime of the sea acceptable to all States and based on the principle of equity.  However, the Convention did not make adequate provisions for special geographical situations and, thus, was not able to establish an acceptable balance between conflicting interests.  Furthermore, the Convention made no provision for registering reservations on specific clauses. 


Although Turkey agreed with the general intent and most of the provisions of the Convention, it was unable to become a party to it, owing to these serious shortcomings, he said.  Thus, Turkey could not support a resolution which called upon States to become parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea and to harmonize their national legislation with its provisions.


As for the draft resolution on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, he said that Turkey wished to reaffirm the same position elaborated vis-à-vis the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  His country was unable to give its consent to certain references to the Convention made in the draft resolution, in particular in the third operative paragraph, in which States were called upon to become parties to it.  In this respect, Turkey dissociated itself from the consensus on this paragraph.


ADRIANA P. PULIDO SANTANA (Venezuela) said that her country had supported international efforts aimed at promoting international cooperation regarding the law of the sea.  However, despite the passing of two decades since the Convention was opened for signature, the reasons why Venezuela had not become a party to the Convention still existed.  Certain aspects of the draft resolution on oceans and law of the sea posed difficulties for Venezuela, which was not a party to the instrument referenced therein.  Thus, those provisions, which had not been specifically accepted, were not applicable to Venezuela.  For this reason, Venezuela would abstain on this resolution.


SHUICHI AKAMATSU (Japan) said that, in relation to the Fish Stocks Agreement, Japan was confronted with certain problems with respect to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, which had not yet been resolved through the preparatory process.  Although he hoped that they would be resolved in the near future, Japan was not in a position to become a party to the Fish Stocks Agreement at present. 

It was regrettable, he noted, that despite Japan’s active participation in the drafting process, draft resolution A/57/L.50 (on straddling fish stocks) had failed to properly reflect the position of Japan which, although not yet a part to the Agreement, was fully involved in addressing the issue of the conservation, management and sustainable use of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.  In light of that, Japan would dissociate itself from the consensus adoption of that text.  It had not, however, opposed its adoption. 


Also, in light of Japan's position regarding the Fish Stocks Agreement, draft resolution A/57/L.49 did not entirely reflect Japan's position.  However, since that text addressed important challenges, Japan could go along with it to a certain extent.  Japan had decided to associate itself with the consensus adoption. 


As for draft resolution A/57/L.48/Rev.1, Japan found it difficult to join the sponsorship of that resolution in view of its reference to the Fish Stocks Agreement.  Nevertheless, he recognized that the adoption of that kind of comprehensive and forward-looking draft resolution on the oceans and the law of the sea befitted the special occasion of the commemoration (of the twentieth anniversary of the sea law Convention).  Moreover, Japan had committed itself to complying with and to developing further the Convention, which contributed to the legal order for all ocean affairs, thus facilitating the principle of peaceful uses of oceans.  Therefore, Japan had decided to vote for that text, in view of the significance of its contribution in the areas of ocean affairs as a whole.


The resolution on Oceans and the law of the sea (document A/57/L.48/Rev.1) was adopted by a vote of 132 in favour to one against (Turkey), with two abstentions (Colombia and Venezuela).


The resolution on Large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas/illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, fisheries by-catch and discards, and other developments (document A/57/L.49) was adopted without a vote.


The resolution on Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks was also adopted without a vote.


(Annex follows)


ANNEX


Vote on Oceans and the Law of the Sea


The Assembly adopted (as Resolution 57/141) the draft on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (document A/57/L.48/Rev.1) by a recorded vote of 132 in favour to 1 against, with 2 abstentions, as follows:


In favour:  Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritania, Mexico, Federated States of Micronesia, Monaco, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nauru, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Yugoslavia, Zambia.


Against:  Turkey.


Abstaining:  Colombia, Venezuela.


Absent:  Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Jordan, Kiribati, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Marshall Islands, Mauritius, Mongolia, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nigeria, Palau, Republic of Korea, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, Yemen, Zimbabwe.


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