12 June 2013
Meetings Coverage

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

Meeting of States Parties

to Law of Sea Convention

165th Meeting (AM)

As Annual Meeting of Convention on Law of Sea Concludes, States Parties Urge

Balance between Ocean’s Sustainable Protection, Reasonable Exploitation

Bureau Establishes Intersessional Working Group

To Investigate Working Conditions of Continental Shelf Commission Members

States must strike a balance between the sustainable protection of the world’s oceans and their reasonable exploitation as sources of food, energy and employment for billions of people around the globe, stressed delegates as the States Parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concluded their twenty-third Meeting today.

“The oceans require our constant vigilance,” said the representative of Sri Lanka, joining a multitude of speakers throughout the morning who urged that the health of the world’s seas be a priority consideration.  In particular, he said, overfishing had given rise to serious concerns about the sustainability of fish stocks, which could jeopardize the food security of billions of people.  His country, as an island State, was dependent on the fishing industry as a major generator of employment and food.

Other speakers, including the delegate of India, raised concerns about ocean acidification caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, a situation that required urgent attention.  In that regard, it was necessary to conduct a comprehensive study on the matter, including aspects related to climate change, carbon capture, geographical formation and adaptation, he said, reminding the Meeting that an Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, on the theme titled, “The impacts of ocean acidification on the marine environment”, would be held next week.

Meanwhile, several delegations stressed the need to combine the scientific protection of the oceans with the right of States to their reasonable exploration and exploitation.  Among those was the representative of Thailand, who said that a growing number of developing States now had realistic opportunities as deep seabed miners.  He said that he hoped that any deep seabed mining would give rise to the equitable enjoyment of the “Common Heritage of Mankind”, as envisaged by the Convention’s founders, while at the same time protecting the marine environment.

Another topic garnering attention from the Meeting was the continued discussion of the workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, one of the three bodies created to implement the Convention.

Commission Chair Lawrence Folajimi Awosika took the floor to make a number of clarifications about the timeframe for taking up submissions in the Commission’s queue.  He said that, even with six subcommissions working simultaneously, it would take approximately five years to consider 60 submissions.

In that vein, a number of speakers — some of whom had already submitted claims to the Commission regarding the establishment of the outer margin of their continental shelves, and who were in the queue — emphasized that speedy and equitable determinations of those submissions would positively contribute to their nations’ development.  They urged the Commission to expedite its work, with some proposing that its annual working time be expanded from 21 to 26 weeks.

In other business today, Kimberly K. Louis, Chair of the Credentials Committee, presented the Committee’s report.  She said that, to date, formal credentials had been received by the Secretariat from 100 States parties taking part in the Meeting, and that communications had been received from 34 States parties on the understanding that formal credentials would be sent to the Secretariat as soon as possible.

The Meeting then approved the report of the Credentials Committee.

Following the Meeting’s decision to establish an intersessional working group charged with discussing, and reporting on, the working conditions of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf — including issues related to health insurance, lack of office space and loss of income while in New York — the Meeting decided to appoint two members of its Bureau as Co-Chairs of the new body.  They were James Ndiragu Waweru ( Kenya) and Thomas Heidar ( Iceland).

Also making statements today were the representatives of China, Paraguay, Qatar and Bangladesh.

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For information media • not an official record