30 January 2017

Commission on Limits of the Continental Shelf to Hold Forty-third Session at Headquarters, 30 January to 17 March

NEW YORK, 30 January (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) ― The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf will hold its forty-third session from 30 January to 17 March.

This will be the last session of the Commission in its current composition as the term of office of the present members of the Commission expires on 15 June.  The elections of 21 members of the Commission will be held at the twenty-seventh Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to be held from 12 to 16 June.

On an exceptional basis, there will be three weeks of plenary meetings during the forty-third session:  from 13 to 17 February and then from 6 to 17 March.  The remainder of the session will be devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the establishment of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.  To highlight the work carried out by the Commission since 1997 and to reflect on the relationship between the Commission and the other two treaty bodies established under the Convention — namely the International Seabed Authority and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea — the Commission will hold an open meeting at United Nations Headquarters on 10 March, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.  Representatives of States parties to the Convention and of Observer States to the Meeting of States Parties, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority, Presidents and Judges of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice, representatives of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Hydrographic Organization, as well as all former members of the Commission, have been invited to the open meeting.

The programme of the Open Meeting available in early February on the website of the Division at, and a further press release will be issued in due course regarding this anniversary.

As to the workload of the forty-third session, nine subcommissions will continue to actively consider submissions made by the Russian Federation, in respect of the Arctic Ocean (partial revised submission); Brazil, in respect of the Brazilian Southern Region (partial revised submission); France and South Africa, jointly, in respect of the area of the Crozet Archipelago and the Prince Edward Islands; Kenya; Nigeria; Seychelles, concerning the Northern Plateau Region; France, in respect of La Réunion Island and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam Islands; Côte d'Ivoire; and Sri Lanka.

The Commission will also, at the plenary level, continue its consideration of draft recommendations in respect to the submissions made by Norway, in respect of Bouvetøya and Dronning Maud Land; South Africa, in respect of the mainland of the territory of the Republic of South Africa; and Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, jointly, concerning the Ontong Java Plateau.

Several coastal States that have not yet done so have been invited to make presentations of their submissions at the plenary.  Two of them — Argentina, for its partial revised submission, and Sri Lanka — have accepted this invitation. 

Other invited States indicated a preference to present their submissions at a future session of the Commission on the understanding that such deferrals would not affect the position of the submissions in the queue.

The Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography, which was established pursuant to article 2, annex II to the Convention.  The Convention provides that the State party which submitted the nomination of a member of the Commission shall defray the expenses of that member while in performance of Commission duties.  However, the participation of several members of the Commission from developing countries has been facilitated by financial assistance from a voluntary trust fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission.  With respect to the 2017 sessions, support to these members will be possible thanks to generous contributions received so far from Canada, India, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation.

Members of the Commission are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals, having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation.  They serve in their personal capacities.  The Commission makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States.  These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States in relation to the implementation of article 76 of the Convention.  The recommendations do not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts, or prejudice the position of States that are parties to a land or maritime dispute, or application of other parts of the Convention or any other treaties.  The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.

As required under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission, the executive summaries of all the submissions, including all charts and coordinates, have been made public by the Secretary‑General through continental shelf notifications circulated to Member States of the United Nations, as well as States parties to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at  The summaries of recommendations adopted by the Commission are also available on the above-referenced website.

For additional information on the work of the Commission, please visit the website of the Division at

For information media. Not an official record.