Fifty-seventh General Assembly
71st and 72nd Meetings (AM & PM)
NEED FOR SUSTAINABLE MANAGEMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES, PROTECTION OF MARINE
ENVIRONMENT STRESSED IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY'S DISCUSSION OF OCEAN ISSUES
Combined Value of Ocean Resources and Uses
Estimated at Seven Trillion Dollars Annually
The combined value of ocean resources and uses was estimated at $7 trillion annually, the representative of Singapore told the General Assembly today, as it considered ocean issues and the law of the sea. He added that the World Bank estimated that by 2008, nearly 4.5 billion people would live within 60 kilometres of the coast.
Reflecting the importance of the world’s oceans and seas as the cradle of life and an essential resource, many delegates discussed areas of particular concern, such as the protection of the marine environment, the prevention of pollution and the degradation of marine ecosystems, and the need for sustainable management of marine resources.
Introducing the draft resolution on the law of the sea, the representative of Brazil said the text emphasized the need for capacity-building and the effective application of marine scientific knowledge and technology in dealing effectively with problems related to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, the degradation of the marine environment both from land-based sources and pollution from ships, and crimes at sea.
The representative of the United States, who introduced two draft resolutions on a number of fisheries issues and the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, said the ratification and carrying out of international fisheries management agreements was an important tool in protecting international fish stocks, promoting the sustainable use of living marine resources and providing food security.
Furthermore, the General Assembly had an important role to play in advising and guiding competent organizations, specialized agencies and regional organizations on sustainable fisheries issues, particularly concerning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, said the representative of Norway.
However, the Assembly should focus on specific issues with global implications, such as marine pollution, said the representative of Iceland, rather than those falling within the purview of States individually or being adequately
addressed at the regional level, such as the conservation and sustainable utilization of living marine resources. There should be no global micro-management of fisheries.
Overall, as the representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, remarked, no treaty was more central to the spirit and goals of the Charter than the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It provided a legal order for nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface and the settlement of all issues relating to the law of the sea, as well as the conservation and management of resources and the study and protection of the marine environment in a balanced and integrated manner.
Also addressing the Assembly this morning and afternoon were the representatives of the Sudan, Malaysia, Denmark (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Mexico, Viet Nam, Bulgaria, Peru, Ecuador, Madagascar, Japan, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Costa Rica (on behalf of the Rio Group), Monaco, Namibia, Ukraine, India, Canada, China, Uruguay, Samoa, Argentina, Jamaica (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Republic of Korea and Guyana.
The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 11 December 2002, to consider the reports of the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).
The General Assembly met this morning and afternoon to discuss oceans and law of the sea. The Assembly had before it a Report on the work of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process to facilitate the annual review by the Assembly of developments in ocean affairs (document A/57/80), which details issues to be suggested and elements to be proposed to the General Assembly, presents the Co-Chairperson's summary of discussions and then describes issues that could benefit from attention in the future work of the General Assembly on oceans and law of the sea. Among the issues considered to merit attention from the General Assembly were: marine protected areas; review of the national, regional and global implementation of Part XII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; potential and new uses of the oceans; development and transfer of marine technology; oceans stewardship/ecosystem-based integrated management of the marine environment; food security and mariculture; navigation in ecologically sensitive areas; and the protection of coastal areas from the introduction of non-native species.
The Assembly had before it a report of the Secretary-General on Oceans and law of the sea (document A/57/57 and Add.1), which reviews the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its implementing Agreements. After Hungary's ratification of the UNCLOS in February 2002, there are 138 States party to the Convention, including one international organization. With respect to maritime zones, it discusses recent developments, national claims, the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles and the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the deposit of charts and/or lists of geographical coordinates and compliance with the obligation of due publicity and access to and from the sea by landlocked developing countries and freedom of transit.
In respect of shipping and navigation, the report discusses issues relating to the safety of ships, transport of cargo, safety of navigation, assistance at sea and the implementation and enforcement of the main International Maritime Organization (IMO) Conventions. Concerning crimes at sea, it details the prevention and suppression of acts of terrorism against shipping, piracy and armed robbery against ships, the smuggling of migrants, stowaways and the illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
The report also reviews efforts for the sustainable development of marine resources and underwater cultural heritage, including the conservation and management of marine living resources, non-living marine resources and sustainable development of small island developing States. In the context of the marine environment, it details the legal regime for the protection and preservation of the marine environment and the prevention, reduction and control of pollution as well as regional cooperation through a review of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) regional seas programmes and action plans. In the same context, it describes the protection of specific marine areas, climate change and sea-level rise and the ten-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 at the World Summit on Sustainable Development at Johannesburg, South Africa. It also describes United Nations system programmes in marine science and marine technology.
Moreover, the report examines dispute settlement through review of the Mox Plant case (Ireland v. United Kingdom) before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as well the two relevant cases before the International Court of Justice. It also discusses cross-cutting issues such as capacity-building for the implementation of UNCLOS, regional and international cooperation and coordination on ocean affairs and the implementation of UNCLOS and integrated ocean management.
The addendum to the report, which covers the period since the publication of the main report, from 7 March 2002 to mid-October 2002, contains information on the status of UNCLOS and its implementing Agreements. It also contains a summary of the results of the World Summit on Sustainable Development as they relate to the oceans and seas.
The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution on Oceans and law of the sea (document A/57/L.48), by which it would urge all States and relevant international bodies to cooperate to prevent and combat piracy and armed robbery at sea and call upon States and private entities concerned to cooperation fully with the IMO, including by submitting reports on incidents to the organization and by implementing its guidelines on preventing attacks of piracy and armed robbery.
It would urge States to become parties to the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and its Protocol and invite them to participate in the review of those instruments by the Legal Committee of the IMO to strengthen the means of combating such unlawful acts, including terrorist acts. It would also urge Member States to work together cooperatively and with the IMO to strengthen measures to prevent the embarkation of ships involved in the smuggling of migrants.
Furthermore, the Assembly would call upon States to continue to prioritize action on marine pollution from land-based sources as part of their national sustainable development strategies and programmes, to enhance maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment from pollution and other physical impacts, and to improve the scientific understanding and assessment of marine and coastal ecosystems as a fundamental basis for sound decision-making.
It would also decide to establish by 2004, a regular process under the United Nations for the global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects and ask the Secretary-General, in collaboration with Member States, relevant organizations and agencies and programmes of the United Nations system, other competent intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to prepare proposals on modalities for a regular process for the global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment.
The General Assembly would call upon States to take measures for the protection and preservation of coral reefs and to support international efforts in this regard, to develop national, regional and international programmes for halting the loss of biodiversity, in particular fragile ecosystems, to accelerate the development of measures to address the problem of invasive alien species in ballast water, and to promote the conservation and management of the oceans in accordance with chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and other relevant international instruments.
Moreover, the Assembly would invite the Secretary-General to establish an effective, transparent and regular inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues with the United Nations system.
The Assembly also had before it a report on Large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, fisheries by-catch and discards, and other developments (document A/57/459), which also focuses on the status and implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas. It also addresses the implementation of the four International Plans of Action adopted in support of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries on: management of fishing capacity, reducing the incidental catch of seabirds in longline fisheries, the conservation and management of sharks, and to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It incorporates information provided by States, relevant specialized agencies of the United Nations system, in particular FAO, and other appropriate organs, organization and programmes of the United Nations system, regional and subregional arrangement and other relevant intergovernmental and NGOs.
The problem of large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing is abating, the report says, owing to the international community's continued resolve to ensure implementation of the global moratorium on its use on the high seas. Similarly, genuine efforts are being made to reduce by-catch, discards and post-harvest losses in fisheries operations. There is also a growing awareness of the importance of conservation and management tools such as the precautionary approach and the ecosystem approach when dealing with marine living resources. The problem of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing also constitutes a threat to the conservation and management of the ocean's fishery resources. Actions to implement recently adopted international instruments aimed at deterring and eliminating such practices should be pursued.
The report concludes that technical and financial assistance, previously extended to developing countries on particular aspects of fisheries management, should be provided in a comprehensive manner. Furthermore, in addition to inviting Member States to ratify and/or implement several relevant international instruments, the report invites Member States to continue to ensure compliance with the global moratorium on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing on the high seas, to apply measures to prevent unauthorized fishing by vessels flying their flag in areas under the national jurisdiction of other States, to reduce by-catch, discards and post-harvest losses, to apply the precautionary approach to fisheries management and to support cooperation among regional fishery bodies and, where appropriate, to support the strengthening of their role in fisheries management.
The corresponding draft resolution on Large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing, unauthorized fishing in zones of national jurisdiction and on the high seas/illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, fisheries by-catch and discards, and other developments (document A/57/L.49) would have the Assembly urge all States to apply the precautionary approach widely to the conservation, management and exploitation of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks and encourage them to apply by 2010 the ecosystem approach. It would also urge States to develop and implement national and regional plans of action to put into effect by 2004 the International Plan of Action (of the FAO) to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and to establish effective monitoring, reporting and enforcement and control of fishing vessels.
Furthermore, it would urge States to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to over-capacity and urge States, relevant international organizations and regional and subregional fisheries management organizations and arrangements that have not done so to take action to reduce or eliminate by-catch, fish discards and post-harvest losses.
Also before the Assembly is a draft resolution entitled, “Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks” (document A/57/L.50). By its terms, the Assembly would urge all States, and entities referred to in the Convention and in article 1, paragraph 2 (b), of the Agreement, to pursue cooperation in relation to straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks. It would also urge them to ensure the effective conservation, management and long-term sustainability of such stocks, to agree on measures necessary to coordinate and, where there are no subregional or regional fisheries management organizations or arrangements in respect of particular straddling or highly migratory fish stocks, to cooperate to establish such organizations or enter into other appropriate arrangements.
Also, the Assembly would call on all States to ensure that their vessels comply with the conservation and management measures that have been adopted by subregional and regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements in accordance with relevant provisions of the Convention and of the Agreement. It would also call on all States that have not done so, in order to achieve the goal of universal participation, to become parties to the Convention, which sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out, taking into account the relationship between the Convention and the Agreement.
LUIZ T. CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) introduced the draft resolution on oceans and the law of the sea. He noted that, among other things, the text touched on a number of problems of immediate importance, such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, the degradation of the marine environment, both from land-based sources and pollution from ships, and crimes at sea. It also emphasized the need for capacity-building and the effective application of marine scientific knowledge and technology in dealing effectively with those problems.
He said the entry into force of the Convention eight years ago was a landmark achievement of collective action. Yet, the promise of the Convention and the effective implementation and regulation of the international legal framework to which it gave rise still remained to be fulfilled. Uncontrolled and unsustainable exploitation of the oceans had continued to cause growing levels of over fishing, loss of biodiversity, territorial conflicts and degradation of living marine resources.
There was a growing understanding, he noted, that problems of the oceans and the seas were interrelated and required a holistic approach. Therefore, he looked forward to continued progress in generating a modern legal framework for regulating their use. In the case of fisheries, he welcomed the entry into force of the 1995 Fish Stocks Agreement and its complementary role to the FAO Plan of Action.
Brazil’s commitment to capacity-building was underscored by the five-day regional training course it hosted from 3 to 9 March, in Rio de Janeiro, on the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. As a result of the encouraging response to that course, Brazil was considering the possibility of hosting a second training course.
MARY BETH WEST (United States), introducing the draft resolution on large-scale pelagic drift-net fishing and unauthorized fishing (document A/57/L.49) as well as the draft resolution on the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement (document A/57/L.50), said that the drafts before the Assembly today represented an assemblage of current oceans issues drawn from the priorities and interests of Member States. The ratification and carrying out of international fisheries management agreements was an important tool in protecting international fish stocks, promoting sustainable use of living marine resources, and providing food security. These drafts reflected the importance of implementation and the means to build capacity for better management.
Welcoming the steps taken in the draft resolutions to begin implementation of the plan agreed at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, she reminded the Assembly that that plan called on the world community to establish, by 2004, a regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment and to elaborate regional programme of action and improve links with strategic plans for the sustainable development of coastal and marine resources. In this context, the “White Water to Blue Water” initiative aimed to achieve an integrated approach to the management of freshwater watersheds and marine ecosystems, to be begun in the wider Caribbean region in 2003. It was hoped that this initiative would serve as a successful model for similar efforts in other regions.
Anticipating that as the international community explored topics unforeseen 20 years ago, solutions would be found within the applicable juridical framework, she added that the United States looked forward to the establishment of an inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system. She also drew attention to some of the important issues addressed by the IMO and endorsed the draft resolution’s call to support its work.
CHARLES MANYANG d' AWOL (Sudan) said the international community, 20 years after the signing of the Convention, was pinning great hopes on strengthened cooperation and solidarity to create a safe maritime environment. That concept must be based on developing natural and human resources and putting an end to degradation of the marine environment and marine life. The need to develop human resources meant passing laws to make rational use of ocean resources in conformity with international treaties.
In spite of the growing number of signatories, it was still necessary to make use of different forums to invite the participation of all States in protecting the marine environment and putting into effect international norms and standards. In that regard, national capacity-building was required. He paid tribute to the generous gift presented by the Government of Norway to the data preparation fund, which was presented to the Commission on the Continental Shelf.
He said that it was necessary to bring to bear the resolution of the World Summit on Sustainable Development on the importance of oceans and seas as fundamental components of global ecosystems. The Conference had also focused on the need to cooperate and coordinate efforts with the Department of Oceans. It also spoke of the need to establish a mechanism to coordinate ocean issues on an inter-agency basis. That coordination, as well as implementation of resolutions to strengthen international cooperation, would help strengthen least developed countries so they could benefit from international cooperation as a whole. Those countries would also be able to participate in international scientific forums, particularly those relating to oceans and the seas.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said that the United Nations Agreement on the conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks was an important vehicle to ensure long-term sustainability of fish stocks and their optimum utilization. Malaysia was currently studying the agreement and considering becoming a party. It was hoped that assistance would be extended to States that needed it concerning this issue.
There should be no duplication of United Nations programmes and activities for the conservation and management of fish stocks, he said. Discussions on the environment and sustainable development would not be complete without reference to the oceans and marine environment and resources, and all sources of marine environment degradation such as land-based, sea-bed activities, dumping of wastes, vessel-source pollution, and pollution from or through the atmosphere needed to be addressed.
Previous initiatives such as Agenda 21 and the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) had dealt with ocean resources and the marine environment, and recently the World Summit on Sustainable Development had addressed sustainable development in the context of oceans and seas, he said. It was timely that an appropriate mechanism was created to provide the institutions established by those initiatives with a way to consider the interrelated problems of the oceans as a whole and to identify issues programmes and strategies that were needed. That would ensure that governance of the oceans was not fragmented and would be in line with the progress in sustainable development. He believed that the appropriate mechanism to consider the interrelated problems of oceans as a whole was the General Assembly itself.
He said that although the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) had somewhat fulfilled that role, it lacked judicial, technical and economic functions. He proposed therefore the transformation of UNICPOLOS from a mere process of consultation to an Ocean Assembly tasked to study the development in ocean affairs under the framework of UNCLOS, UNCED and the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Its work would be undertaken against the backdrop of overall developments of all ocean issues, and it would be capable of becoming a forum for negotiation as well as possessing power to make decisions and direct agencies under the United Nations umbrella to perform certain tasks as required. The international community should make it its common responsibility to guarantee that that international legal regime remained relevant and gained universal acceptance.
MARTIN KOFOD (Denmark), on behalf of the European Union and associated States, called for universal acceptance of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and expressed concern that some States had made declarations and enacted legislation which appeared to be inconsistent with the Convention. The World Summit in Johannesburg, had improved the prospects for action-oriented implementation of Agenda 21, in particular chapter 17 on oceans. The European Union, through its international scientific cooperation in the sixth Framework
Programme for Research, would offer opportunities for research on marine protected areas in response to the World Summit on Sustainable Development decision to restore degraded aquatic ecosystems by 2015.
Another matter of concern for the European Union was the problem of over-fishing, which he linked to heavy investments in fishing fleets. That led to violations of fishing rules and overexploitation of resources in order to turn a profit. He emphasized the need for the improvement of maritime safety policy in order to reduce the risk of incidents that resulted in loss of life and marine pollution. The IMO had the key role to play in that regard. However, the European Union wished to assist by identifying weaknesses and gaps in international regulations and their implementation. In addition, he called on all States to ratify the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and other matter.
Turning his attention to the problems of piracy and armed robbery at sea which threatened commercial shipping, he said one of the recent initiatives was the EU-ASEAN Experts’ Meeting on Maritime Security in Manila in February 2002. Out of that meeting came constructive proposals for further international and regional cooperation. In relation to terrorism, the European Union strongly supported amendments to enhance maritime security. Dealing with illegal immigrants in distress at sea, he said there should be more international cooperation on the matter and felt it would be useful to have the matter debated by the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans.
Mr. SZEKELY (Mexico), reviewing Mexican contributions to the drafting of UNCLOS, said his Government would soon publicize its choice of means under Part XV on the peaceful settlement of disputes, which would reaffirm both Mexico’s trust in the institutions constituted 20 years ago as well as the role of the International Court of Justice in the development of contemporary law of the sea. The universal nature of the Convention had always been a fundamental prerequisite for the success of the marine regime; for this reason, the executive arm of the Mexican Government had submitted Part XI to its legislature for approval. Thus, Mexico would soon be ready to participate more fully in the work of the International Seabed Authority.
Welcoming initiatives to establish a framework on the exploration and exploitation of coasts rich in cobalt and other minerals, he said Mexico would continue to participate in the seabed regime, confident of the Authority’s ability to safeguard the interests of the international community. However, significant challenges still confronted the marine regime. Among those to which Mexico attached particular importance was the protection and conservation of living marine resources. This included the need to review and strengthen the regime for the protection of marine mammals.
To ensure sustainable development and integrated management of the oceans, the international community needed to pay particular attention to enhancing maritime security and the protection of the marine environment. Greater knowledge of marine ecosystems and coral reefs should be the base upon which to make decisions, while international cooperation was necessary to prevent adverse effects and restore these ecosystems. As to the safety of navigation, he commended the draft resolution for taking note of the trafficking in migrants. Finally, the decision to extend the Consultative Process was welcomed; its deliberations would be extremely important.
NGUYEN THANH CHAU (Viet Nam) described the 1982 Convention on the Law of the Sea as a great landmark in the codification and progressive development of international law as a whole and the law of sea in particular. The world community had to enhance its efforts to implement the Convention, and its integrity needed to be maintained. Viet Nam favoured assistance to developing countries, lacking expertise and resources, in the preparation of their submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
Guided by the provisions of the Convention, his country had adopted over the last few years 12 new ordinances and decrees in harmony with international law of the sea. Viet Nam had also managed to conclude agreements on maritime delimitation with some neighbouring countries on the basis of the Convention. Concerning the situation in South China Sea, he urged all parties to settle disputes by peaceful negotiations. In that context, he noted with satisfaction the signing by the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries and China of a declaration on the conduct of parties in the South China Sea during the 8th ASEAN Summit. He saw that as a positive step towards a fundamental and durable solution to disputes in that area.
KATYA TODOROVA (Bulgaria) said the adoption of the Convention and its opening for signature 20 years ago had been among the most significant achievements in the establishment of new international legal order over the seas and oceans. The Convention had been a unique law-making experience resulting in enacting a comprehensive framework of legal rules determining the legal status of all maritime spaces and the legal regime governing all major maritime activities. In addition, the Convention provided for a developed system of procedural and related institutional rules for the settlement of disputes arising from the implementation or interpretation of the Convention.
Taking into account the interesting and thought provoking discussions which took place at the informal panels, she suggested that the deliberations and proposals advanced therein be followed up as early as possible. An appropriate occasion might be the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention in 2004. In doing so, the emphasis should be on ways and means to ensure compliance with and enforcement of rules, regulations and established standards. The primary mechanism for enforcement should be supplied by special agreements deriving from the provisions of the Convention.
She joined those who highlighted the significance of the Convention for the maintenance of peace and strengthening international security, as well as sustainable development of the oceans. Among the priority issues in that connection were the need for preventing and suppressing crimes at sea, such as piracy, armed robbery, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, hazardous wastes, and smuggling of migrants.
OSWALDO DE RIVERO (Peru) said that from the beginning, Peru had been
a promoter of a new law of the sea and, along with other countries of the South Pacific and Latin America, had put forward the idea of the 200 mile zone to secure the conservation, development and the advantages of natural resources. That was done to benefit the subsistence and the economic well-being of people of the region, and to allow the innocent passage of vessels of all nations through such locations.
He said that even though his country was not yet a member of the Convention of the United Nations on the Law of the Sea, Peru had in its legislation the basic principles of such an international instrument, especially those related to the protection and conservation of live resources of the sea. Further, that national mechanism was made compatible with the Convention in order to establish a system of fishery regulations, quotas, seasons and areas of fishing, as well as the methods for preservation and exploitation of those resources. In addition, Peruvian legislation established that fishing activities by foreign ships were determined by Peru so as to prevent over-fishing and other excesses.
He said Peru respected the regulations established by the Convention on freedom of navigation of foreign ships through waters subject to national jurisdiction and finally he expressed the hope that, subject to its domestic legislative process, Peru would accede to the Convention.
ARNI MATHIESEN, Minister of Fisheries of Iceland, said it was imperative that the Law of the Sea Convention be fully implemented and its integrity preserved. Issues that had been settled at the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference should not be reopened. It should be remembered that the conclusions of the Conference were a “package deal”. Individual States prevailed in some areas, while having to give in on others.
He praised the work of the three bodies that had been established under the Convention, and noted that the Law of the Sea Institute of Iceland and the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia would co-host a conference on legal and scientific aspects of continental shelf limits in Reykjavik on 25-27 June next year. The aim was to contribute to understanding of article 76 of the Convention, and thus assist coastal States in preparing their submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
He said the Assembly focus on specific issues with global implications, such as marine pollution, rather than those falling within the purview of the sovereign rights of States or being adequately addressed at the regional level, such as the conservation and sustainable utilization of living marine resources. There should be no global micro-management of fisheries.
He said information on the impact of land-based pollution on the oceans was fragmented and did not allow for comparison. Regular assessments of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, were needed as a basis for decision making. He observed that the draft omnibus resolution of the General Assembly would establish by 2004 a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting and assessment. Iceland supported that.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, said that no treaty was more central to the spirit and goals of the Charter than the Convention, providing a legal order for nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface, and settling all issues relating to the law of the sea, including issues of peace and security, conservation and management of resources and the study and protection of the marine environment in a balanced and integrated manner.
He was pleased that the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement had entered into force and welcomed the informal meeting of States Parties that took place in July. He also welcomed the preparations for giving effect to the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, the constructive participation of all interested States, and the decisions of the latest Preparatory Commission recently concluded last month in Manila. He continued to urge the distant water fishing nations and entities with a real fisheries interest in his region to make every effort to become a party to that Convention.
At its annual meeting held in Suva in August, the Forum had approved a first ever regional oceans policy that elaborated some guiding principles to serve as a template for the States in the Forum to consider developing national ocean policies that strengthened coordination and complementarily in the region’s ocean-related activities. He was pleased that such regional activity had been noted in the omnibus resolution.
The annual review by the Assembly of developments in oceans and law of the sea, he noted, was critically important as the Assembly remained the only body within the United Nations system that could harness all the complex and interrelated aspects and activities. While he was grateful to the Secretary-General for his annual comprehensive report, he hoped that reporting capacity would continue to be strengthened.
ROLF EINAR FIFE, Director General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, said the tragic events of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent security situation had made the Convention on the Law of the Sea fundamentally important for the maintenance of international peace and security. Preventing shipping from becoming a tool for terrorists was a crucial element of that process, which to
a large extent fell within the scope of the International Maritime Organization.
Enhanced port control as well as the establishment of more effective mechanisms to increase maritime safety and security were not only appropriate, but were also required under the present circumstances, he said. The Diplomatic Conference on the Revision of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea now underway in London would adopt relevant new regulations. The Proposed International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, designed to provide
a standardized, consistent framework for evaluating risk, would enable Governments to determine the appropriate responses to the level of threat and vulnerability. It would be an important achievement.
The General Assembly also had an important role to play in advising and guiding competent organizations, specialized agencies and regional organizations on sustainable fisheries issues, in particular illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing which he said was still a serious problem in many parts of the world. Also, recent environmental disasters such as the pollution caused by an oil tanker off the coast of Spain were “shocking” reminders of the constant need to strengthen safety and security regulations, especially for vessels carrying cargo that posed a major risk to the environment.
The possibility of new international transport routes for radioactive material and waste was another major concern, he said. Norway had for many years advocated the strengthening of regulations on the transport of radioactive materials by sea as well as strict liability rules for such activities. Norway also supported the continuation, for another three years, of the informal consultative process to facilitate the General Assembly’s annual review of ocean affairs and the law of the sea. He also supported the establishment of an inter-agency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system as recommended by the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Such a mechanism should, where feasible, build on existing structures and mechanisms and establish good working and operational relations with the Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea in the United Nations Legal Office.
LUIS VALENCIA RODRIGUEZ (Ecuador) took the opportunity provided by the commemoration to inform the Assembly that his Government, mindful of the fundamental importance of the Convention as the sole universal legal regime regulating all aspects of the seas and oceans, had decided that Ecuador should accede to the Convention. The progress made since 1982 had convinced Ecuador that the issues that impeded its becoming a party in the beginning had now largely been overcome. The advantages for his country were more meaningful than any drawback that they might involve. Adherence to law and compliance with it was the best guarantee for any State’s interests.
On 19 July, Equador had established by decree a specialized agency –- the National Commission on the Law of the Sea -- whose chief purpose was to facilitate its accession to the Convention, he said. Studies had been launched to determine the greatest benefits from the Convention’s provisions and promote public awareness about it. The Commission, which he chaired, began work on 29 August and had been fully operational since then. As a result of those efforts, the President of Ecuador had addressed the national congress on 17 October to call for its approval of the Convention, a prerequisite for accession. The matter was now being considered by the legislature. As soon as that process was concluded, Ecuador would accede to the Convention.
ZINA ANDRIANARIVELO-RAZAFY (Madagascar) said the year 2002 provided both the occasion to recognize objectives achieved in the area of oceans and the law of the sea and served as a reminder of oceans as a vital economic resource. They played a crucial role in the area of security, international cooperation and sustainable development. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was a global legal focal point that reflected the rights and obligations of each State to protect the marine environment.
Vessel pollution had been a problem worrying the international community for years, he said. Madagascar stressed the urgency of developing measures appropriate to protecting the marine environment from such disasters. As an island, Madagascar had experienced its share of "incidents at sea", which destroyed aquatic fauna and flora. In this regard, he was encouraged by the growing number of international accords aimed at protecting the marine environment, such as those included in the outcomes of the Rio and Johannesburg Summits.
For Madagascar, the coastal zones were the platforms for a variety of problems, he added. Out of their ignorance, fishers and others helped destroy marine and coastal ecosystems. As Madagascar was an island whose economy and survival was dependent on the protection, management and sustainable exploitation of the seas and their resources, it had participated actively in negotiations for the Convention as well as other relevant fora. The fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar had suffered from ongoing environmental problems and was deeply concerned by the rise in criminal activities such as terrorism, piracy, drug trafficking and illegal fishing. In this context, it had rationalized its coastal surveillance in the past year.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said the international community was now facing a range of new problems, such as terrorism and illegal trafficking in drugs, that had not been anticipated by the Convention on the Law of the Sea. Each of those problems had to be addressed in a manner that respected the spirit and provisions of the Convention. Also, he stressed the need for domestic legislation to harmonize with the provisions of the Convention. Japan had been active in the work of the International Seabed Authority and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, and had been providing about one quarter of their budgets. All States should, however, address the issue of the budget.
As a State surrounded by the sea, Japan was committed to the preservation of the marine environment and indeed was a State party to UNCLOS and the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. As a responsible fishing State, it was also committed to the conservation and management of living marine resources, in order to eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries and, thus, conserve the marine ecosystem. About piracy and armed robbery at sea, Japan had signed the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. Pointing out the need for research in such areas as climate change and natural disasters, he said Japan was determined to cooperate with research programmes by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and UNEP.
KISHORE MAHBUBANI (Singapore) said that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the twentieth anniversary of which was commemorated today, had helped promote peace, security and law and order in ocean space. It had replaced a plethora of conflicting claims with universally agreed limits to territorial seas and other maritime zones. The Convention represented the triumph of the rule of law; it was the first major multilateral treaty that contained mandatory provisions for dispute settlement.
Highlighting two of the many challenges still facing the world, he said that the first was the pollution, over-exploitation, destruction and degradation of marine ecosystems. The combined value of ocean resources and uses was estimated at $7 trillion annually, while the World Bank estimated that by 2008, nearly 4.5 billion people would live within 60 kilometres of the coast. The significant increase in population and economic activities had placed immense pressures and demands on the oceans and seas. More needed to be done to redress the degradation of the marine ecosystem and to ensure the long-term sustainability of marine resources. Concrete results would depend on capacity-building at both the national and regional levels, as well as the transfer of technology from developed to developing countries.
The second challenge, he continued, was to ensure maritime safety and security. The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 had added new dimensions to the threat of terrorism on the high seas and the danger of terrorists linking up to attack ships at ports. The international community should act in unison to combat threats, and to eradicate the scourge of terrorism. In this regard, he said, he welcomed the initiative of the International Marine Organization (IMO) to review measures and procedures for the prevention of acts of terrorism at sea and to safeguard shipping. Singapore had worked, individually and collectively, to ensure that the Straits of Malacca and Singapore remained safe and open to shipping.
CHITHAMBARANATHAN MAHENDRAN (Sri Lanka), reflecting upon the contributions made by his predecessor, Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe, to the development of the law of the sea, said the Convention was a major United Nations achievement. It was a multilateral instrument that gave hope to the promotion and maintenance of peace and international security and provided an equitable basis for the uses of the oceans and the sharing of their resources. The three draft resolutions before the Assembly represented a positive step in attaining consensus in dealing with the challenges of the oceans.
The Convention had recognized the need to promote the development of marine science and technology, he said, as well as the need to help strengthen developing countries’ capacities in those areas. In that respect, it was important to note that capacity-building had been addressed in the draft resolutions. Furthermore, the emphasis placed on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, the integrated management of the seas and the safeguarding of marine ecosystems should be endorsed.
Recognizing the successful work of the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, as well as of the consultative process, he added that Sri Lanka had a special interest in the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. As many others had noted, the Convention had stood the test of time, and tribute should be paid, in this regard, to both its framers and the Secretariat of the United Nations.
ENRIQUE A. MANALO (Philippines) said that while there were ample reasons to celebrate the achievements of the past 20 years since the opening for signature of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, such celebrations should be circumspect, tempered by reality of the present and mindful that daunting challenges lay ahead. That reality should propel the international community to a higher level of vigilance to protect and preserve the maritime zones.
The coast ecosystems of Asia, for instance, were damaged, he said. In the last 30 years, two-thirds of that period with the Convention in place, 11 per cent of the coral reefs had collapsed, 48 per cent were in critical condition, while 80 per cent were at risk. Mangroves, on the other hand, had lost 70 per cent of their cover in the last 70 years. Unless remedial measures and effective management were conducted to conserve those ecosystems, at the current rate of loss, all mangroves would disappear by 2030, and coral reefs could suffer total collapse within 20 years.
Fish production had also fallen in Asia, he continued. Peak production had been reached in 1988 and 1991 in the Northwest Pacific Ocean and West Central and Southwest Pacific Ocean respectively. Data from those regions showed that the change in catch from the peak year to 1992 ranged from two to 10 per cent. He attributed the rapid decline in fish production to open access and over-fishing.
He said a growing population and increasing international trade had also affected ocean space. Again, the Asian region clearly illustrated that point: there was today a total of six coastal mega-cities in East Asia with more than 10 million people, and it was predicted that number would increase to eight by 2015. The high level of urbanization resulted in the rapid growth of populations of smaller coastal cities in the region, thus adversely impacting on the health of the ocean space, through increased pollution and the degradation and depletion of marine resources. Added to all that was the rapid increase in trade as a share of gross domestic product in the region.
Advances in technology also placed enormous pressure on the effectiveness of the legal framework established in the Convention. The depredations of man to attain illegal gain also posed a grave threat to the security and safety of the maritime commons. He said that for centuries, the international community had been besieged in the ocean space by organized crime and other illegal acts. Without sustained global attention and action to interdict acts of terrorism, piracy, smuggling of migrants, illicit trafficking in narcotics and arms, as well as illegal fishing practices, maritime resources would become highly unsustainable.
BRUNO STAGNO (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the member States of the Rio Group, said the countries of the Group had contributed to the development of the regulatory regime for the seas. The Santiago Declaration of 1952 had helped with the development of exclusive economic zones and the law of the sea. While recognizing the importance of carrying out reform to deal with issues pertaining to straddling and migratory fish stocks, it was important, in doing so, not to lose sight of the rights of States.
The Group welcomed plans to conduct an assessment of the overall marine environment in 2004. That reflected a growing awareness of the interrelated nature of maritime issues. It was necessary to prepare standards to protect the marine environment. The Group was also concerned about the effects that fishing in high seas could have on adjacent zones, about problems linked to illicit trafficking of drugs by maritime routes, and about the use of the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea for the transport of nuclear waste. The protection of vulnerable environments was important, and important scientific findings should be disseminated for the benefit of developing countries. He said the Conference on Maritime Delimitation in the Caribbean held in Mexico from 6-8 May would facilitate voluntary negotiations between Caribbean States.
JACQUES L. BOISSON (Monaco) said the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea had undoubtedly contributed to the peaceful settlement of disputes, which would otherwise have led to litigation or conflict. Noting, as well, that Monaco shared the essential principle that the seabed beyond national limits and the resources of this zone were the common heritage of mankind, he said the Convention’s treatment of the continental shelf and the establishment of a commission to deal with related questions had contributed to international cooperation. Furthermore, the protection and preservation of the marine environment was a long-standing tradition in Monaco.
Monaco played host to both the International Hydrographic Organization and the Laboratory of the Marine Environment, an organ of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), he added. Also, Monaco’s tradition of protecting and preserving the marine environment was reflected in it having been the first State to ratify the protocol related to cooperation in the prevention of vessel pollution and the prevention of pollution in the Mediterranean. This protocol completed agreements already undertaken between France, Italy and Monaco for the prevention of accidental pollution.
Convinced that problems related to the oceans and seas were linked and should be considered in an integrated, interdisciplinary and intersectoral manner, Monaco recognized the importance of the consultative process, he said. Moreover, Member States should keep in mind the continued increase in the responsibilities of the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea during the budgeting process for the biennium 2004-2005.
GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said the need for sustainable development could not be overemphasized, since the oceans and seas provided a large percentage of the resources necessary for the existence of humankind. There was a need for capacity-building to ensure that all States, particularly developing countries, were able both to implement the relevant instruments and benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas.
Therefore, he attached great importance to the entry into force of the Agreement for the Implementation of the provisions of the Convention relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, the objective of which was to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of those fish stocks. International cooperation was crucial to ensure successful conservation, management and long-term sustainability of the living marine resources of the world's oceans and seas.
Namibia continued to support efforts to curb large-scale drift-net fishing on the high seas, he said. It had banned drift-net fishing in its waters. International cooperation to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing should be strengthened. For its part, his country had undertaken successful surveillance and enforcement measures to deter unauthorized fishing in its waters.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said that despite considerable progress in the implementation of the legal regime established under the 1982 Convention, the state of the world’s seas and oceans had steadily deteriorated. Over-exploitation of living marine resources through excessive fishing continued to be of grave concern to the international community. Such a situation required the international community to expedite the implementation of the remaining goals of Agenda 21, adopted 10 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).
He stressed the need for effective coordination and cooperation in integrated ocean management to facilitate sustainable fisheries, enhance maritime safety and protect the maritime environment. In that context, he noted with satisfaction the Plan of Implementation of the recent World Summit on Sustainable Development, Part VI of which produced a vision of the strategy for the future sustainable development of oceans. As a geographically “disadvantaged” country bordering a sea poor in living resources and suffering from depletion of fish stocks of its exclusive economic zone, Ukraine placed special emphasis on the problem of the prevalence of illegal, unregulated and unreported fisheries. He urged all States to apply effective measures for the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks to protect marine life resources and the marine environment.
The General Assembly was in a unique position to address in a holistic manner the complex nature of ocean-related matters, and in that connection he underlined the importance of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea. He praised its result-oriented and effective work, which had facilitated the General Assembly’s annual review of developments in ocean affairs. Ukraine supported the continuation of the Process as an adequate forum for debate on ocean matters.
A. GOPINATHAN (India), speaking about the work of the International Seabed Authority, said his country, as a registered pioneer investor in the mining of polymetallic nodules, had signed the contract with the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, which had adopted a mining code on the matter. As it prepared its submission to the Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf, India was evaluating data already available, while undertaking further necessary surveys. It was cooperating with other States in the conservation and management measures for fishery resources of the Indian Ocean, based on its membership of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and Western Indian Ocean Tuna Organization. It was also taking steps to become party to the 1995 Agreement on the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks.
Marine scientific research, he pointed out, could lead to a better understanding and utilization of almost every aspect of the ocean and related matters, including fisheries, marine pollution and coastal zone management. Because of that, parts XIII and XIV of the Convention on the Law of the Sea relating to marine scientific research and transfer of marine technology should be fully implemented. India also supported the IMO’s efforts aimed at promoting cooperation to deal with the increasing acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships. Higher national and international priority had to be given to efforts to eradicate those crimes, he stressed.
ROBERT HAGE (Canada) said that like the oceans themselves, the rules and mechanisms by which they were governed were dynamic. The Convention had not resolved all the problems of man's use of the seas. In the past 20 years, the bright prospects for what seemed to be an abundant supply of fish had turned dim as fish stocks around the world had collapsed, including groundfish stocks off the Atlantic coast and salmon off the Pacific coast of Canada. The sinking of the tanker Prestige last month off the coast of Spain had brought home, once again, that use of the ocean highway could lead to environmental tragedy.
He welcomed the entry into force of the Fish Stocks Agreement, the wide adoption and effective implementation of which was key to achieving sustainable management of the world's fisheries. In that regard, the work of regional fisheries management organizations was critical. The elaboration of the Agreement within the framework of the Convention had demonstrated an essential strength of the Convention -- a structure capable of further development. There were additional areas, such as marine pollution, where the international framework was not as well developed as it could be, in light of new and growing menaces to the life of the world's oceans.
What was needed, he added, might well be an elaboration of Law of the Sea provisions, in the same way that the Fish Stocks Agreement elaborated UNCLOS provisions for straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. At the same time, he emphasized that no number of additional international instruments would be able to deal effectively with the challenges posed by competing use of the seas, unless there was implementation of and compliance with those agreements. The political will to comply was an essential ingredient.
WANG YINGFAN (China) supported the strengthening of integrated ocean management, focused currently on enhancing integrated coastal area management. He proposed that the Assembly further stress the importance of marine integrated management, and urged all coastal States to take effective measures in that regard. At the same time, the Assembly should also call on countries to redouble their efforts for marine environment protection, and incorporate that in their national strategies for sustainable development.
In that connection, it was important to strengthen the capacity of developing countries in maritime activities, especially their maritime monitoring capacity, so that they could implement the Convention and benefit from it. In addition, the developed countries should increase assistance and technology transfer to the developing countries, so as to encourage the latter to formulate their own plans for the development of marine science and technology. Having held three meetings so far, he believed the Informal Consultative Process had basically served its intended purpose.
Therefore, he proposed that a "coordination network" for ocean affairs and the law of the sea be established, with the Assembly at its centre. Its task would be to continue the consideration of the functions of relevant international organizations with respect to issues of the law of the sea, while focusing its work on strengthening cooperation and coordination among those organizations on ocean affairs.
FELIPE H. PAOLILLO (Uruguay) said that the international community’s purpose in codifying the law of the sea was to facilitate international communication, as well as to promote the peaceful use of seas and oceans and the equitable and efficient use of their resources. The Convention made great strides in promoting peace and security on the seas and avoided the involvement of States in a race to colonize the seabeds. It had laid out rules reconciling the interests of coastal States with navigation and trade, as well as a system for the settlement of disputes. Yet, despite the undeniable progress that had been made, the oceans still represented a many-faced drama. Problems such as territorial disputes and pollution remained unresolved.
The international community needed to deal urgently with issues such as halting the deterioration of the marine environment and the exhaustion of marine resources, he said. However, the production of new instruments and rules was not a sufficient answer. Instead, the many instruments that already existed should be ratified and implemented immediately. Furthermore, the international community should be encouraged to comply with emerging obligations flowing out of existing instruments.
The failure of States to comply was frequently due not to a lack of political will, but to a lack of information, personal capacity, technology or insufficient national legislation, he continued. Developing countries, in particular, faced many difficulties. In that regard, it was commendable that the draft resolution recognized their disadvantaged situation and proposed several recommendations to build their capacity to implement the Convention and benefit therefrom.
TUILOMA NERONI SLADE (Samoa), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said that the 37 member countries of the Alliance felt especially honoured and proud to be part of the event celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to recall the historic and celebrated roles played by Arvid Pardo of Malta and Tommy Koh of Singapore, as well as other distinguished statesmen and personalities from island States. The Convention had withstood the challenges and stresses of the past 20 years, and remained the cornerstone for order, peace and security in the oceans.
He noted that with the recent ratifications, including that by Tuvalu, the international community now nearly universally accepted the Convention. As it occupied a central place in the development aspirations of Small Island Developing States, the Convention set the legal order and framework, and provided for a sound and balanced basis for national, regional and global efforts. It was, thus, necessary to ensure that it was made fully effective through uniform implementation and in a manner that preserved its integrity and character. He underscored the need to ensure a connection between the legal dimensions of rights and obligations set under the Convention, and the substantive programmatic dimensions with regard to sustainable development provided for in Agenda 21 and now in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
In that connection, the Alliance welcomed the steps taken in the resolution on oceans and the law of the sea, and the two fisheries resolutions, towards implementing the Plan of Johannesburg, appreciating in particular the call made in the oceans resolution to halt the loss of marine biodiversity, and the emphasis placed on integrated regional approaches to oceans issues. The vastness and complexity of the oceans posed real problems of implementation for all countries, but more so for island countries, especially because of their lack of skills and resources. However, more concerted efforts were being made through regional mechanisms, and approaches developed over the past 20 years had yielded positive results in all the regions, he added.
ARNOLDO LISTRE (Argentina) said his country had sanctioned a number of laws pertaining to maritime issues, among them the law creating the Commission on the Limit of the Continental Shelf. The deadline established by the Commission for submissions was beneficial to countries that were hindered by financial and technical constraints. Argentina supported the work of FAO and had even participated in the elaboration of the code promoting responsible fishing and its related plan of action, in particular the provision concerning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. It was also involved in the work of the International Whaling Commission, and he hoped the 1993 agreement on compliance would enter into force soon.
Argentina supported work to regulate the transportation of radioactive substances, he said. Since its ratification of the 1982 Convention, new problems had arisen, such as international terrorism, which made it necessary to ensure the safe transportation of such materials. Argentina had also ratified the Protocol of the convention against the transportation of illegal immigrants. On piracy, he said new rules had to be negotiated to ensure there were no erroneous interpretations of provisions of the 1982 Convention. The integrity of the Convention had to be maintained.
Referring to oceanographic matters, he pointed out that Part XIV of the Convention, dealing with marine technology transfer, had not yet been put into practice. That had been of some concern in the last few years, due to renewed interest in the effects of oceanic and coastal processes and their impact on life on the planet. The adoption of the mining code represented an essential step by the International Seabed Authority.
NORMA TAYLOR ROBERTS (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that, 20 years after it was opened for signature, the Convention on the Law of Sea remained the signal expression of the international community’s commitment to the effective management and protection of the resources of the world’s oceans and seas. The three institutions created by the Convention -- the International Seabed Authority, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf -- were all carrying out their mandates effectively.
For CARICOM countries, the effective implementation of the Convention and its related Agreements had been constrained by scarce resources and limited capacity, she said. Despite those constraints, however, CARICOM countries had made encouraging progress in their efforts at sustainable management of the use of the ocean’s resources, aided by support from donor countries and international agencies. Furthermore, the regional approach could be an effective tool in promoting cooperation and encouraging implementation. For example, Caribbean countries had agreed to collaborate on a system to ensure that sub-standard shipping was eradicated from the region.
Another issue of importance was the need for new approaches to marine science, technology and fisheries management systems, she added. In this context, CARICOM States had developed a protocol to protect against land-based pollution, which established principle and priority actions necessary to improve regional marine areas in fields such as domestic sewage, oil refineries, sugar factories and distilleries, food processing and chemical industries. Moreover, the inadequacy of protection offered to en-route coastal States by regulations governing the transportation of hazardous wastes continued to be of concern. The Caribbean Sea and its fragile ecosystems could no longer sustain the immense demands placed upon it without a holistic and integrated management approach, she concluded.
SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said the Twelfth Meeting of the States parties to the Convention, held in April, had discussed the strengthening of its role, which was presently limited to administrative and financial topics. Despite the view of some States that, due to the lack of specific provisions in the Convention, the Meeting was not a suitable forum for discussing substantive matters, he supported strengthening the role of the Meeting. The lack of specific provisions did not mean that substantive matters could not be deliberated at the Meeting.
Cooperation among neighbouring coastal States was indispensable for the effective management of the sea under the Convention, he said. Since the Convention entered into force in 1994, a new maritime order had been emerging in North-East Asia. China, Japan and the Republic of Korea had concluded bilateral fisheries agreements as provisional measures pending the final delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone among them. In recognition of the growing importance of maritime delimitation, negotiations were currently under way with neighbouring States on Exclusive Economic Zone boundary delimitation in the region.
ODEEN ISHMAEL (Guyana) said the importance of water as a primary and global resource had been recognized by the international community at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The urgent need to address the degradation of the quality of trans-boundary water resources and the physical habitat, including coastal and near-shore marine areas and watercourses, as well as the excessive exploitation of biological and non-biological resources, had been acknowledged.
Those issues, he said, posed complex developmental challenges for small open economies, such as those in the Caribbean, and transcended national boundaries. Serious attention was needed concerning the establishment of joint maritime
development zones by countries with adjacent coastlines where maritime boundaries were still not settled. The matter needed to be addressed holistically in a balanced way that ensured peace, stability and the promotion of sound economic growth and sustainable development for all the region’s countries.
Guyana recognized that scientific advances and technological development would continue to open untapped potential for the use of coastal, offshore and exclusive economic zones and deep ocean areas. To address those needs and the challenges of vulnerability of the ocean resources, developing countries, especially small States and the least developed countries, required new resources to enhance their capacity to manage the existing level of development in a well integrated manner, he said. In that regard, the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention had played a major role in streamlining the short and long-term developmental goals at the national and regional levels through the establishment of clear objectives, principles and frameworks. Additionally, the Convention had produced a number of important and valuable innovations, the most valuable of which was the Exclusive Economic Zone.
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