Updated on 13 January 2017

UN-Oceans is an inter-agency mechanism that seeks to enhance the coordination, coherence and effectiveness of competent organizations of the United Nations system and the International Seabed Authority, within existing resources, in conformity with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the respective competences of each of its participating organizations and the mandates and priorities approved by their respective governing bodies.

UN-Oceans will:

(a) Strengthen and promote coordination and coherence of United Nations system activities related to ocean and coastal areas;

(b) Regularly share ongoing and planned activities of participating organizations within the framework of relevant United Nations and other mandates with a view to identifying possible areas for collaboration and synergy;

(c) Facilitate, as appropriate, inputs by its participating organizations to the annual reports of the Secretary-General on oceans and the law of the sea and on sustainable fisheries to be submitted to the Secretariat;

(d) Facilitate inter-agency information exchange, including sharing of experiences, best practices, tools and methodologies and lessons learned in ocean-related matters.

The United Nations Legal Counsel/Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea is the focal point of UN-Oceans.

Background information

In resolution 57/141, the General Assembly invited the Secretary-General to establish an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system. On 31 October 2003, the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) endorsed the conclusion of the High Level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) to establish an ocean and coastal areas network (OCAN), building on the former Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas (SOCA) of the Administrative Committee on Coordination. OCAN was subsequently changed to UN-Oceans.

In 2013, the General Assembly, in its resolution 68/70, recognized the work undertaken so far by UN-Oceans, approved the revised terms of reference for the work of UN-Oceans, with a revised mandate, as annexed to that resolution, and decided to review these terms of reference at its seventy-second session in the light of the work of UN-Oceans.

Relevant documents relating to UN-Oceans, including its meeting reports since its first meeting in 2005, as well as the biennial work programme, are available on its website: http://www.unoceans.org/