11 June 2013
Meetings Coverage
SEA/1991

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Meeting of States Parties

to Law of Sea Convention

163rd & 164th Meetings (AM & PM)


State Parties to Law of Sea Convention Debate Establishment of Budgetary Oversight


Mechanism in Efforts to Increase International Tribunal’s Effectiveness

 


Delegates Say Secretary-General’s ‘Ocean Compact’

Initiative Does Not Properly Reflect Member States’ Interests


The budget review process for the international tribunal for maritime affairs should be brought up to more efficient and effective standards, said delegates today in the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea as it continued its twenty-third session.


The representative of the United Kingdom, recognizing the need for a more effective scrutiny of budgets for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, introduced a proposal that would create a small body of experts — a mechanism already employed by other comparable institutions.  She stressed that the establishment of such a mechanism in no way suggested poor management or mismanagement of the budget by the Tribunal’s Registrar, but rather would put the Tribunal on a better footing as it faced an increasing workload.


She argued that the current large plenary was not appropriate for reviewing the budget.  The new body, although smaller in size than the plenary, would have equitable geographical representation.  Further, the existing open-ended working group had become so large that it acted more like the plenary than a dedicated working group.  Its size restricted its ability to act decisively in a timely manner.  The establishment of the new body would not negate the existing working group, but would, instead, be an addition that would not incur additional cost.


However, Argentina’s representative said that the matter had been addressed in each meeting that included discussions on budgetary matters.  His delegation had consistently opposed the notion of addressing budgetary matters in smaller groups as they excluded some States parties.  Accountability and transparency could not be achieved without the participation of the plenary, or without adequate records of what had been discussed.  Those conditions only happened in wider meetings, he emphasized, concluding:  “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


The Russian Federation’s delegate pointed out that the proposal required further clarifications, such as how the mechanism would work in practice, how the group would be formed, what its mandate would be, and how the body would take decisions.  That narrow body would be discussing issues affecting broader membership and would add more complexity in the Tribunal.


Despite those concerns raised, the United Kingdom’s proposal enjoyed certain support among the delegations.  The delegate of Japan stated that the proposal was pragmatic and modest, and worth considering.


His counterpart from Canada said that maximum efficiency was needed in the current financial climate.  Her delegation supported the principle that the Tribunal’s finances and budget should be subjected to some form of oversight, which would put it on par with other similar bodies.  She was open to considering further the proposal of the United Kingdom, as well as others that might be put forward.


Nonetheless, Ferit Hoxha ( Albania), President of the Meeting, seeing no consensus on the proposal, proposed that the Meeting take note of the proposal, as well as the ensuing discussion, while remaining seized of the matter.  In addition, he said, the Bureau suggested that interested parties engage in consultations during the present meeting with the understanding that, if anything substantive emerged, it would be further discussed.


Addressing other budgetary matters, several delegations acknowledged an improvement in the 2011-2012 budget performance rate of the Tribunal from the previous financial period and welcomed the proposed budget reduction for the 2013-2014 year, while other representatives sought to identify areas for further cost reduction in future budgeting.


The representative of the European Union delegation recalled that, last year, his delegation had urged that savings not just be made by adjusting the number of expected cases.  Supporting the Tribunal to continue in its efforts for “real” savings, he encouraged the optimal use of resources in light of financial constraints faced by Governments worldwide.


Vladimir Jares, Deputy-Director overseeing the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in the Office of Legal Affairs, also updated the Meeting on the current status and projected funding requirements of the three voluntary trust funds created by the General Assembly to assist the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.


When the Meeting turned to the reports of the Secretary-General on issues of a general nature, the representative of Fiji, who spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Oceans Compact — an initiative of the Secretary-General — did not properly reflect the interests of Member States or the delicate balance of their rights.


He went on to say that the Group had sent a letter in May of this year to the Secretary-General, outlining its main concerns with the Compact, including, among others, that the initiative should in no way be construed as an action plan for the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.  There were also concerns that the Compact had the appearance of being a policy undertaking, and that none of the experts who drew up the Compact represented developing countries.


However, several delegates, including those of Iceland and Norway, said that the Meeting was not the right forum to debate the issue.  Rather, involvement of the General Assembly Member States on all aspects of the Oceans Compact initiative was necessary.


Also speaking in today’s session were the representatives of China, Morocco, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Brazil, Australia, France, Chile, Italy, South Africa, Viet Nam, Kenya, Mexico, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the United States.


The Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 12 June, to continue its work.


Background


The Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea met today to continue its work.  For background, see Press Release SEA/1989 of 7 June.


Under consideration were reports on budgetary matters for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, including the Report of the external auditor for the financial period 2011-2012 (document SPLOS/257), the Report on budgetary matters for the financial periods 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 (document SPLOS/258), and the Proposal by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for a mechanism to scrutinize budgets of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (documents SPLOS/260 and SPLOS/260/Corr.1).


The Meeting also had before it a number of reports of the Secretary-General on:  “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum” (document A/67/79/Add.1); “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum, The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its implementing agreements” (document A/67/79/Add.2); and “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum, addressing the impacts of ocean acidification on the marine environment” (document A/68/71).


Statements on Reports


At the outset, the Meeting took note of the Report of the external auditor for the financial period 2011-2012 (document SPLOS/257).  It then turned to the Report on budgetary matters for the financial periods 2011-2012 and 2013-2014 (document SPLOS/258).


The representative of Japan stated that she appreciated an improvement in the budget performance rate from the previous financial year.  The rate, excluding case-related costs, had been particularly very high, at over 96 per cent.  That demonstrated sound management by the Registrar of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.  However, there was still room for further improvement.  In drafting the budget, the Registry could reduce the number of urgent cases in budget estimates and consider the use of working capital.


She commended the remarkable savings in travel costs and encouraged the Registrar to continue such efforts.  Regarding general temporary assistance and overtime, the performance rate had remained low in the 2011-2012 period.  The Registrar should take into accounts the points made in the drafting of future budgets.  In addition, she sought clarification on the budget cuts for the 2013-2014 period, particularly a reduction in provisions of daily subsistence from 90 days to 20 days.  She concluded, urging the Registrar to find further reduction in any possible ways.


The representative of Argentina also expressed satisfaction at the content of the reports, as well as at the enormous efforts undertaken to reduce the Tribunal’s budget.  Noting that the Tribunal’s time was extremely valuable, he wondered if the use of that time in budget consultations did not go against the goal of streamlining its work.  He also proposed that the Meeting take note of the report “with satisfaction”.


The representative of the European Union delegation, first addressing the performance report for 2011-2012, observed that the total expenditure was more than €1 million under budget.  He also noted efforts undertaken by the Tribunal to reduce its budget, recalling that, last year, his delegation had urged that savings not just be made by adjusting the number of expected cases.


In that regard, he hoped that the Tribunal would continue and increase its efforts for real savings, and encourage the optimal use of resources in light of financial constraints faced by Governments worldwide.  As well, because arrears in the payment of assessed contributions remained a source of concern, he urged all States to fulfil their financial commitments.


The representative of China, taking note of the auditor’s report, said he was pleased with the overall budget performance rate of over 94 per cent for the 2011-2012 period.  Further, he stated his appreciation for the proposed reduction in the 2013-2014 budget, and commended the Registrar’s efforts to overcome difficulties in cutting the budget.


The representative of Morocco, in a general comment outside the agenda item, welcomed renewed enthusiasm in the work of the Tribunal and the other bodies established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  To support those bodies, it was essential to bring more expertise to them.  In that regard, he acknowledged efforts made by some countries to provide training in the area of technology, science and legal matters.


PHILIPPE GAUTIER, Registrar of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, in response to the questions and comments, in particular those raised by Japan’s delegate, said a technical adjustment had indeed been made to the current budget.  The Tribunal had decided to reduce the provisions for its meetings’ preparatory work, including per diems for staff.  There had also been a reduction to travel expenses.  The Tribunal had considered holding judicial proceedings in tandem with other meetings, including administrative meetings.  However, that was not always possible as urgent judicial meetings sometimes arose.


The Meeting then took note of the Report on budgetary matters for the financial periods 2011-2012 and 2013-2013 (document SPLOS/258).


The representative of Argentina reminded the President that he had suggested the report be taken note of “with satisfaction”.  In addition, he pointed out that some delegations had referred to the concept of an “extended” or “expanded” continental shelf.  That language was not agreed upon and should not be used for reporting purposes.


FERIT HOXHA ( Albania), President, agreed that the Meeting would indeed take note of the report “with satisfaction”.


Discussion on Proposed New Budget Review Mechanism


The representative of the United Kingdom introduced its proposal for a mechanism to scrutinize budgets of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (documents SPLOS/260 and SPLOS/260/Corr.1).


She said the proposal did not, in any way, suggest poor management or mismanagement of the budget by the Tribunal’s Registrar.  Having such a mechanism would, in fact, enhance the Tribunal’s reputation, and she pointed out that a similar mechanism already existed in other international tribunals.  Nations faced financial constraints and the Tribunal’s workload had increased.  Due to all those factors, it was timely to put the Tribunal on better footing.  A large plenary was not appropriate for reviewing the budget.


She went on to say that the open-ended working group had become so large that it acted more like the plenary than a dedicated working group. Its size restricted its ability to act decisively in a timely manner.  The new body with an equitable geographical representation would not replace or negate the existing working group, nor would it add costs.  The Tribunal’s budget had increased 40 per cent from a decade ago.  There was a need to be ready for future years.


The representative of Guatemala, remarking that the proposal by the United Kingdom had already been received informally in 2012, said she was pleased to consider the proposal formally and to move the discussion forward.  It would be appropriate to have a mechanism allowing States parties to take better budgetary decisions.  While underscoring that accountability and transparency were crucial, she said that a situation, similar to those in other tribunals, should be created.  The composition of the Working Group was “a bit strange” and did not allow for good decisions on budgetary matters.   However, she was prepared to discuss the item with other States Parties, and to take into account other views.


The representative of Argentina pointed out that the matter had been addressed in each meeting that included discussions on budgetary matters.  His delegation had been consistently opposed to the notion of addressing budgetary matters in smaller groups which excluded some States parties.  Accountability and transparency could not be achieved without the participation of the plenary, or without adequate records of what had been discussed.


For that reason, he said, the proposal under consideration seemed contradictory as it proclaimed a search for transparency while seeking to exclude some delegations from budgetary debates.  Budgetary matters should be limited to the Meetings of States Parties.  The inclusion of the plenary and the keeping of records were conditions that only happened in those wider meetings, he said, adding “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.


The representative of Costa Rica said that the Secretariat had put forth wise budgets that were in step with the Tribunal’s mandate.  It was unnecessary to discuss the matter in a smaller group that would be more concerned with austerity than with the actual needs of the Tribunal.  Because of that, she did not agree with the United Kingdom’s proposal.


The representative of Brazil said that the open-ended group that already existed was inclusive, accountable and transparent.  He, therefore, could not support the formation of a new, exclusive group that could in fact weaken the Tribunal.


The representative of the Russian Federation said his delegation had not formed a final position on the matter.  The proposal required further clarifications, such as how the mechanism would work in practice, how the group would be formed, what its mandate would be, and how the body would take decisions.  According to the proposal, that narrow body was to discuss issues affecting broader membership.  There was a need to consider what the consequences would be in creating such a mechanism, considering that it would add more complexity in the Tribunal.  The existing mechanism was effective.


The representative of Japan supported the United Kingdom’s proposal, noting that it was pragmatic and modest.  Given the financial constraints and increased workload of the Tribunal, it was time to review the method utilized to discuss the budget.  The proposal, which did not negate the existing working group, was worth considering.


The representative of Canada said that it was in everyone’s interest to have an effective and efficient Tribunal.  Maximum efficiency was needed in the current financial climate.  Her delegation supported the principle that the Tribunal’s finances and budget should be subjected to some form of oversight, which would put it on par with other similar bodies.  She was open to considering further the proposal of the United Kingdom, as well as others that might be put forward.


The representative of Norway said that her delegation shared the desire for a more financially sound Tribunal, and supported the creation of a smaller body for that purpose.  To ensure transparency and accountability, that body must be geographically representative.  Too informal a format should be avoided, and representatives with budgetary expertise could be its preferred members.  Therefore, in principle, she was in favour of the United Kingdom’s proposal.


The representative of Australia said that his delegation was sympathetic to the aims of the United Kingdom’s proposal and agreed with the delegate of Japan’s comments that it represented a “pragmatic and modest” initiative that had a precedent in the structure of other bodies.  However, he also understood the concerns of other delegations, and stressed the need to pursue the proposal in such a way that did not exclude delegations or usurp the authority of the plenary.


The representative of France said that the proposed mechanism could add more information and clarification to budgetary matters.  Nonetheless, two questions must be answered — how the mechanism would inform the plenary and which States would make up the body.


The representative of Chile said his delegation was open to considering the mechanism, but the body must be inspired by two essential principles — equitable geographical representation and transparency.


The representative of Italy stated his support of the proposal.  He understood the points raised by sceptics, but those were solvable.  The proposal did mention equitable geographical representation.  Three or four experts could be designated from each region to communicate with other delegates.  It would be a good idea to experiment with that new mechanism and see what the results were.


The representative of Argentina said that the United Kingdom’s proposal had not been supported by all countries, nor were its details supported universally even by those countries in favour of it.  Thus, those who were interested in the proposal could “iron out their differences” and make a second proposal.  An element that was absolutely essential was the recognition of the Meeting of States Parties as an appropriate forum to deal with substantive issues.  Indeed, constant discussions on how to discuss issues were a waste of time, and meant that the Meeting was purely administrative in nature.  “We have to take into account what we are here for,” he stressed.


The representative of South Africa said that his delegation did not support the United Kingdom’s proposal to the extent that it sought to exclude some States parties from budgetary discussions.


The President said that there seemed to be no agreement.  In light of the diverging views, he proposed that the Meeting decide to continue its discussion of the sub-item as appropriate at future meetings.


The representative of the United Kingdom said that, in fact, there was sufficient support for its proposal to create a new mechanism and answers to those who were against it.  She stressed that the mechanism would not supplant the open-ended working group or the work of the plenary.  “It is not changing what is already there; it is just adding another layer,” she said.  Therefore, some of the delegations’ objections could be discounted.


Moreover, she continued, there was a certain wave of support for the proposal, and there should be some system for discussing the way forward.  She, therefore, asked for clarification on the President’s conclusion.


The President responded that his conclusion was based on a lack of consensus for the proposal, and that the matter should be left open for further discussion.  As another option, a smaller group of States in favour of the proposal could work to better harmonize their views and present a new proposal.


The representative of Argentina said the issue under consideration had been discussed “ad nauseum” at other meetings.  There was no consensus on the proposal, even among those in favour of it.


The representative of Brazil echoed that position, stressing that “we simply don’t have consensus about this”.


The representative of Costa Rica also agreed, noting that her delegation was not ready to move forward with the discussion at this time.


The representative of Guatemala said she supported the idea of establishing an informal working group to discuss the United Kingdom’s proposal.  Another option was to take note of the proposal at the current session and discuss it in the next session.


The representative of Chile supported the approach proposed by Guatemala’s delegate.


The Bureau then suspended the Meeting to consider its decision on the matter, during which the Bureau met to discuss how to proceed on the United Kingdom’s proposal.


The President then resumed the session and presented the Bureaus’ views, proposing that the Meeting take note of the proposal made by the United Kingdom delegation, as well as the ensuing discussion, and that it remained seized of the matter.  In addition, he said, the Bureau suggested that interested parties engage in consultations during the present meeting with the understanding that, if anything substantive emerged, it would be further discussed.


The Meeting then decided to accept the President’s proposal.


Other Matters


VLADIMIR JARES, Deputy-Director overseeing the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in the Office of Legal Affairs, updated delegates on the current status and projected funding requirements of the three voluntary trust funds created by the General Assembly to assist the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea.  Those funds were administered by the Division.


He said that, in regards to the fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf from developing States in the meetings of the Commission, the balance would be $667,000 upon the completion of the thirty-third session of the Commission, including administrative costs.  For the 2014-2015 biennium, six sessions of the Commission would be held and the projected funding requirements to cover the costs of participation of eight Commissioners were about $1.22 million.  A shortfall of some $560,000 was foreseen for that biennium.


He went on to say that the fund for the purpose of facilitating the preparation of submissions to the Commission for developing States, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States, had a balance of $1.29 million as of 31 May of this year.  Meanwhile, the fund to assist States in the settlement of disputes through the Tribunal had a balance of some $190,000 as of 31 May of this year.


He went on to provide an overview on the status of several other trust funds administered by the Division.  The balance of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea stood at $57,700 as at 31 May this year, while the balance of the voluntary trust fund for the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment stood at $42,000.  The balance of the voluntary trust fund for the purpose of assisting developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and landlocked developing States, to attend meetings of the open-ended informal consultative process on oceans and the law of the sea stood at $81,000.


The representative of Morocco said that international legal firms could provide capital to feed the Funds that had been mentioned.


The Meeting then took note of the Report presented by Mr. Jares.


Report of the Secretary-General on Issues of a General Nature


The Meeting turned to the agenda item entitled “Report of the Secretary-General under article 319 for the information of States parties on issues of a general nature, relevant to States parties, which have arisen with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”.  A discussion was held regarding a number of reports of the Secretary-General on:  “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum” (document A/67/79/Add.1); “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum, The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its implementing agreements” (document A/67/79/Add.2); and “Oceans and the law of the sea, addendum, addressing the impacts of ocean acidification on the marine environment” (document A/68/71).


The representative of Fiji, who spoke on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said that the Oceans Compact — an initiative of the Secretary-General — did not properly reflect the interests of Member States or the delicate balance of their rights.  The Group had participated in the briefings conducted last year, when Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), had revealed the contents of the initiative.


He went on to say that the Group had sent a letter in May of this year to the Secretary-General, outlining its main concerns with the Compact, including, among others, that the initiative should in no way be construed as an action plan for the implementation of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).  There were also concerns that the Compact had the appearance of being a policy undertaking, and that none of the experts who drew up the Compact represented developing countries.


In addition, he said, there was a lack of clarity in the Compact about how Member States would be informed and consulted, as well as concerns about biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, the definitions of “oceans management” and “oceans observation”, and the fact that the initiative had not been officially launched at the United Nations.  Indeed, as the Compact currently stood, he said, the Group was not in a position to support it; however, it was open to working in a truly consultative manner to reform it.


The representative of Viet Nam said the debate on the implementation of the Convention provided an opportunity to draw good lessons and exchange views.  Income from marine activities was important to the economies of Viet Nam and other coastal developing States.  The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China had signed an agreement regarding maritime affairs in the South China Sea.  Providing safe conditions for fishermen was crucial as they had been harassed and victimized by armed attacks.  Unilateral measures contravening the Convention were not acceptable.  In that regard, his country had promulgated a maritime law in 2012.


The representative of Kenya stressed the importance of capacity-building through training, technology and workshops and underscored her delegation’s interest to partner with the Tribunal to disseminate information.  She noted that her country had been among the States which had, in May 2009, made a submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  Her Government had spent significant time and money on that, including, among others, acquiring expensive software to gather data.  Yet, five years had passed since their submission.  She said she would like to see the establishment of a subcommission to review her country’s submission.  As well, she also stated her support for the establishment of an intersessional working group to consider issues relating to medical and dental insurance for Commission members.


The representative of Brazil said that his country, firmly believing in its universality, was one of the first countries to sign the Convention.  It was, he underscored, “a pillar for the global governance of oceans and the law of the sea”.


More recently, he said, the outcome document of Rio+20 had dealt with such ocean-related issues as sustainable fisheries and cooperation on marine research for developing States, among others.  Speakers at Rio+20 had also called for the development of an international instrument, under the Convention, to address the sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.


However, he continued, the Oceans Compact had raised a number of concerns, as addressed by the “Group of 77” and China in their letter to the Secretary-General.  Aligning with that position, he said he would not be able to support the initiative without proper consultations with Member States.


The representative of Argentina she said that she regretted that the complete report of the Secretary-General had not been distributed to Member States at the current meeting.  Further, joining with the “Group of 77” and China, she said that she was aware of the existence of various bodies of the United Nations Secretariat which were aimed at achieving systemic coherence.  However, the Oceans Compact caused great concern to many countries because it appeared to go beyond that systemic aspect, and instead, touched on areas where the implementation of the compact required action by Member States.


Member States, she pointed out, had not been fully consulted in drawing up the Compact.  None of the five experts involved in its conception had represented developing countries, and there was now confusion about the relationship between the Oceans Compact and the Rio+20 outcome document.  In addition, the Compact had recently evolved, calling for the creation of an advisory committee.  That committee was equally worrisome because the Secretariat, not Member States, had appointed its members.  In addition, the General Assembly resolution on the law of the sea had requested consultations with Member States; those consultations had not yet been held.  She said that her delegation could not support the initiative if States were not consulted.


The representative of Mexico, addressing ocean acidification, which had significant impacts on the sea’s ecosystem, welcomed the convening of a meeting next week on that matter.  On the Secretary-General’s initiative, the Oceans Compact, his delegation aligned itself with a statement made by Fiji’s delegate on behalf of the Group of 77.  Stressing the importance of the General Assembly resolution calling for the holding of periodic open meetings, he emphasized his country’s commitment to engaging in consultations within the framework of the Convention.


The representative of Iceland said he attached great importance to the Convention and to its proper interpretation and application.  He pointed out that the Meeting was not mandated to debate on the issues of general nature, such as the Oceans Compact initiative.  Its mandate was limited to certain administrative and budgetary matters.  State parties could simply comment on the reports before them and the reports would simply be taken note of.  That said, he addressed the matter of the Oceans Compact, saying that he shared concerns raised by several delegates about the initiative and its Plan of Action, which had an appearance of policymaking.  It was necessary to undertake open meetings requested by the General Assembly.  The establishment of an advisory group under the framework of the Oceans Compact would not be meaningful, nor was the selection of the advisory group members acceptable.  There was a need to revisit the issue in the General Assembly in the upcoming fall session.


The representative of Bangladesh highlighted the significance of marine resources as an important element in the economic development of developing States, and stressed the need for further capacity-building in that respect.  As well, he touched on issues relating to the equality of rights in the use of ocean resources, social justice for all peoples and the strengthening of the rule of law in oceans and seas.  The drafters of the Convention had struck a balance between the rights and duties of States with regard to the ocean.


However, he continued, more needed to be done to support developing countries in exercising those rights.  The Convention had provided the legal basis towards the “blue economy”, the sustainable management of oceans.  In addition, the Rio+20 outcome and the relevant commitments could help to further enhance the implementation of the Convention.  He also recalled that Bangladesh was already a beneficiary of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, as it had been a party in the Bay of Bengal case, which had been decided with great efficiency.


The representative of Malaysia said that, as a coastal State, his country upheld the principles and obligations under the Convention.  He described Malaysia’s system of coordinated patrols in the Straits of Malacca, which it undertook with its neighbours, Singapore and Indonesia.  Thanks to those efforts, security in the Straits had been achieved, along with a marked decrease in incidents of piracy.


He also said that Malaysia was involved in combating piracy in the Gulf of Eden and the Indian Ocean, as well.  Several of its ships had been taken by Somali pirates, and one remained captive.  Malaysia, as a member of ASEAN, believed in a regional solution to issues and had recently co-chaired an ASEAN regional workshop on ship profiling.  Recalling that an ASEAN Maritime Forum had been established in 2004, he noted that Malaysia would be hosting that forum in the last quarter of this year.


The representative of Norway said she was sympathetic about the concerns raised about the Oceans Compact, but she agreed with Iceland’s delegate, who noted that the Meeting was not a forum to debate the issue.  The General Assembly would be the right forum.


The representative of the United States echoed the statements made by Iceland and Norway, noting that the Meeting was not empowered to perform debate on issues of general nature or engage in the interpretation of the Convention.  Prescribed duties were to conduct elections and determine the Tribunal budget, among others.  States parties could comment on the presented reports, of which the Meeting could then take note.  That said, she said she welcomed the Secretary-General’s commitment to ocean sustainability, but had similar concerns that had been widely shared at today’s meeting.  The involvement of the General Assembly Member States on all aspects of the Oceans Compact initiative was necessary.


Establishment of Working Group


President HOXHA then returned briefly to the item on the Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, proposing that a decision be taken on the suggestion to establish an intercessional working group on the working condition of the Commission’s members.


In that regard, he proposed that such a working group be formed with the following mandate:  to discuss and report to the Meeting on all issues related to the working conditions of the Commission, including lack of office space, loss of income while in New York, visits by family members, and other matters; to discuss issues related to medical and dental insurance for members of the Commission; and to look into the question of whether an existing Trust Fund could be used for those expenses, or whether a new trust fund should be set up.  The working group would issue its first report to the next Meeting of States Parties, he said.


Following that proposal, the Meeting decided to establish the intercessional working group.


President HOXHA noted that a member of the Bureau would be charged with chairing the working group.


Before concluding, the Meeting also addressed a number of procedural matters.


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For information media • not an official record