COMMISSION ON LIMITS OF CONTINENTAL SHELF RECEIVES ITS FIRST SUBMISSION
Russian Federation First To Move
To Establish Outer Limits of Its Extended Continental Shelf
NEW YORK, 21 December (DOALOS) -- Officials of the Russian Mission yesterday delivered to the United Nations the submission of the Russian Federation to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. In accordance with the rules of procedure of the Commission, the submission was made to the Commission through the Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Director of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs and the Secretary of the Commission accepted the submission on behalf of the Secretary-General.
This submission was made pursuant to article 76, paragraph 8, of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982, which came into force on 16 November 1994. The submission contains data and information on the proposed outer limits of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured (often referred to as an extended continental shelf).
The Convention entered into force for the Russian Federation on 11 April 1997. Although it was decided by the eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Convention to modify the starting date of the ten-year period required by article 4 of Annex II to the Convention for the submission of the particulars of the outer limits, the submission of the Russian Federation has been made to the Commission well within the time limit prescribed from the entry into force of the Convention for that State.
In accordance with rule 49 of the Rules of Procedure of the Commission (CLCS/3/Rev.3 and Corr. 1), which requires that the proposed outer limits of the extended continental shelf pursuant to the submission be made public, a note verbale was circulated to all Member States of the United Nations, including the States Parties to the Convention. The note verbale contains the information regarding the outer limits of the Russian continental shelf in the Arctic and Pacific Oceans. It includes geographical coordinates of points delineating the proposed outer limits, as well as illustrative maps. The same information is also posted on the Web site of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (http://www.un.org/Depts/los), and will also be included in the next issue of the Law of the Sea Information Circular.
The consideration of the submission made by the Russian Federation will be included in the agenda of the tenth session of the Commission to be held in
New York from 25 March to 12 April 2002. Upon completion of its task, the Commission will make recommendations to the submitting State in accordance with article 76 of the Convention. The limits of the continental shelf established by the Russian Federation on the basis of these recommendations are final and binding. The Secretary-General will then give due publicity to the limits thus established.
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf was elected following the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Its purpose is to facilitate the implementation of its provisions in respect of the establishment of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the coast. Article 76 provides the rules by which coastal States may establish those outer limits.
The tasks of the Commission are twofold: to examine the submission and make recommendations to the coastal State, and to provide scientific and technical advice, if requested by the coastal State concerned during the preparation of that submission. The Commission’s recommendations and actions are without prejudice to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts. More than 30 States are said to possibly meet the requirements to take advantage of those provisions.
The continental shelf is defined in the Convention as the seabed and subsoil of submarine areas which because of their geological characteristics, are considered as the natural prolongation of the continental or land mass beneath the oceans or seas 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. The continental margin consists of the shelf, the slope and the rise. It does not include the deep ocean floor with its oceanic ridges or the subsoil thereof. The Convention gives coastal States sovereign rights to explore and exploit such resources, which have been estimated as being extremely valuable.
The determination of the outer limit of the continental shelf of States is necessary to separate those areas that fall under national jurisdiction from those areas of the seabed which were proclaimed by the General Assembly, and later the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to be the common heritage of mankind. The resources of the deep seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are to be managed jointly by all States through the International Seabed Authority, a body also established by the Convention.
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