The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, its functions and activities

How to contact the Division:  Write to:
Director, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, Room DC2-0450, United Nations, New York, NY 10017, USA

Telephone: (212) 963-3962
Fax: (917) 367-0560

(Excerpts from the Secretary-General's Bulletin ST/SGB/2021/1 - Organization of the Office of Legal Affairs)

 9.1 The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea is headed by a Director who is accountable to the United Nations Legal Counsel.

9.2 The core functions of the Division are as follows:

(a) Promoting better understanding and wider appreciation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the Convention), the Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the Convention and the Agreement for the Implementation of the Convention relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement) and assisting with their uniform and consistent application and implementation through the provision of information, advice and assistance to States and intergovernmental organizations;

(b) Discharging depositary responsibilities of the Secretary-General under the Convention, other than treaty depositary functions, by maintaining and improving the existing geographic information system for the deposit by States of charts and geographical coordinates concerning maritime zones, including lines of delimitation, submitted pursuant to the Convention, and giving due publicity thereto;

(c) Providing substantive servicing to the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, as well as to the Review Conference on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement and to meetings and/or consultations of States parties to that Agreement;

(d) Providing substantive advice and support to the organizations of the United Nations system to ensure the consistency of instruments and programmes in the respective areas of competence of these organizations with the Convention and the Agreements;

(e) Providing substantive servicing, including geospatial information management servicing and technical facilities, to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in its examination of submissions by coastal States relating to the delineation of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines, and supporting training and other activities to assist developing States in the preparation and presentation of their submissions to the Commission;

(f) Implementing relevant provisions of the respective relationship agreements with the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and maintaining liaison with these bodies;

(g) Providing substantive servicing to the General Assembly and to its subsidiary bodies and/or intergovernmental conferences or other processes relating to oceans which the Assembly may establish in respect of issues related to oceans and the law of the sea, such as the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea or the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects, including by monitoring and reviewing developments in ocean affairs and the law of the sea and reporting thereon to the General Assembly through annual reports on oceans and the law of the sea, on issues related to sustainable fisheries or on other specific topics of interest related to oceans and the law of the sea;

(h) Providing support for the implementation by Member States of the oceans related Sustainable Development Goals in the 2030 Agenda;

(i) Providing capacity-building and other assistance to developing States, in particular the least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing States, as well as coastal African States, in the field of ocean affairs and the law of the sea, through training, fellowships and technical assistance, as well as through financial support from voluntary trust funds managed by the Division;

(j) Supporting the United Nations Legal Counsel in the discharge of the focal point responsibilities related to UN-Oceans, the inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system;

(k) Conducting research and preparing substantive publications on the provisions of the Convention and on diverse issues relating to ocean affairs and the law of the sea, such as the Law of the Sea Bulletin;

(l) Maintaining a comprehensive information system, a website and a research library containing materials on ocean affairs and the law of the sea.



Prepared by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations.

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