COMMISSION ON LIMITS OF CONTINENTAL SHELF TO HOLD
FIFTEENTH SESSION FROM 4 TO 22 APRIL
, 30 March (UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) -- The fifteenth session of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf [hereafter: the Commission] will be held from 4 to 22 April in NEW YORK . At this session, the Commission will begin the examination of the submission by New York . After the Australia in 2001 and Russian Federation in 2004, Brazil is the third country to make a submission to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf where it extends beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured. The submission, containing scientific and technical data and information on the proposed outer limits of the continental shelf, was delivered to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 15 November 2004 in accordance with the deadline provided for in article 4 of annex II to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 [hereafter: the Convention]. This provision establishes that a coastal State must make its submission “as soon as possible but in any case within 10 years of the entry into force of this Convention for that State”. The Convention entered into force for Australia on Australia 16 November 1994.
The submissions to the Commission are made pursuant to article 76, paragraph 8, of the Convention, which provides that, if a coastal State intends to establish the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, information on such limits “...shall be submitted by the coastal State to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf... The Commission shall make recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf. The limits of the shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding”.
As required under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission (CLCS/40), the executive summary of the Australian submission, including all charts and coordinates, was made public by the Secretary-General through a note verbale dated
15 November 2004which was circulated to all Member States of the United Nations, including the States parties to the Convention. The note verbale was also posted on the Web site of the Commission, maintained by the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea [hereafter: DOALOS]: www.un.org/Depts/los.
As provided by article 5 of annex II to the Convention, “unless the Commission decides otherwise, the Commission shall function by way of sub-commissions composed of seven members, appointed in a balanced manner taking into account the specific elements of each submission by a coastal State.” At the fifteenth session the Commission will decide on the appointment of a subcommission to examine
’s submission. Australia
In addition, the Commission will also consider training issues. The DOALOS, with the expert assistance of two members of the Commission acting in their personal capacities, has prepared a training manual to assist States in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare a submission on the basis of the Guidelines developed by the Commission. On the basis of this manual, the first United Nations training course on the preparation of a submission to the Commission was organized, in cooperation with the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and the Commonwealth Secretariat, from 28 February to
4 March 2005, in . The manual will also be used in the second training course -- for the countries of the Fiji Indian Oceanregion -- scheduled to be held from 16 to 20 May 2005in . Taking into account the feedback received after these two training courses, the manual will be further developed, edited, and made available to all interested States. Additional training courses are planned for the West African region in December 2005 and for the Latin American and Sri Lanka Caribbeanregion in the spring of 2006.
History and Purpose of Commission
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf was established, after the entry into force of the Convention (
16 November 1994), at the Sixth Meeting of the States Parties to the Convention (10-14 March 1997) and held its first session from 16 to 20 June 1997. The current members of the Commission were elected in April 2002 at the twelfth Meeting of States Parties and will serve for a term of five years until 2007.
The functions of the Commission are: (i) to examine submissions made by coastal States to delimit the outer limits of their extended continental shelves and make recommendations thereupon; and (ii) to provide scientific and technical advice, if requested by the coastal States concerned during the preparation of a submission. The Commission’s recommendations and actions are without prejudice to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts.
During the examination of a submission, the Commission is entitled to request additional data and information from the submitting State. Upon completion of the examination of a submission, the Commission makes recommendations to the submitting State in accordance with article 76 of the Convention. It may also request that an entirely or partially new submission be made if the one received does not meet the requirements of the Convention. In the case of disagreement by the coastal State with the recommendations of the Commission, the coastal State shall, within a reasonable time, make a revised or new submission to the Commission. The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of the recommendations of the Commission shall be final and binding. The Secretary-General gives due publicity to the limits thus established.
The continental shelf is defined by the Convention as the “seabed and subsoil of the submarine areas that extend beyond its territorial sea throughout the natural prolongation of its land territory to the outer edge of the continental margin, or to a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured where the outer edge of the continental margin does not extend up to that distance” (article 76, paragraph 1). In turn, the continental margin is defined as comprising “the submerged prolongation of the land mass of the coastal State, and consists of the seabed and subsoil of the shelf, the slope and the rise. It does not include the deep ocean floor with its oceanic ridges or the subsoil thereof” (article 76, paragraph 3). The Convention gives coastal States sovereign rights to explore and exploit the natural resources of the continental shelf (article 77).
The outer limits of the continental shelf divide the area of seabed that falls under the jurisdiction of the respective coastal States and the international area of seabed which constitutes what the General Assembly and the Convention (article 136) declared “common heritage of mankind”. The resources of the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are to be managed jointly by the States Parties through the International Seabed Authority (article 157 of the Convention).
The sixteenth session of the Commission is scheduled to be held from 29 August to
16 September 2005.
For additional information, visit the Web site of the Commission, maintained by DOALOS: www.un.org/Depts/los/index.htm.
* *** *