Increased Cooperation, Special Attention to Developing States Must Steer Talks on New High Seas Treaty, Delegates Say as Conference Opens Second Session

SEA/2093
25 March 2019
Second Session, AM & PM Meetings

Increased Cooperation, Special Attention to Developing States Must Steer Talks on New High Seas Treaty, Delegates Say as Conference Opens Second Session

Increased cooperation and recognizing the needs of developing States must lead discussions towards a legally binding convention to govern the high seas, delegates said, as an intergovernmental conference to draft the first‑ever treaty addressing the ocean’s biological diversity opened its second substantive session.

Convened pursuant to General Assembly resolution 72/249, the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction will continue through 5 April.

Opening the session, conference President Rena Lee (Singapore) recalled its mandate to elaborate such a treaty as soon as possible, building upon the first session in 2018, which was “an excellent start to our work and put us on a good path towards the development of the instrument”.  (For more information on the Conference’s first session, please see Press Release SEA/2086.)

Ahead of this session, Ms. Lee called on delegations to work towards a fair, effective outcome, stressing that “we must show flexibility and cooperative spirit to fulfil our mandate”.

Echoing this call for cooperation was the Under‑Secretary‑General for Legal Affairs, United Nations Legal Counsel, and Secretary‑General of the Conference, who anticipated that common interests in providing future generations with healthy and productive oceans will also guide delegations in their negotiations.  Recent initiatives, including within the framework of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, are building on the momentum for the conservation of oceans and their sustainable use.

When the floor opened for a general exchange of views, the representative of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, underscored the group’s concerns, emphasizing that an enduring, universal treaty must establish the necessary institutional agreements that will provide appropriate responses to protect diversity in areas outside national jurisdiction.

Citing reports of deteriorating ocean health, Nauru’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group, said such an instrument must improve global management and conservation in those areas.  It must also protect marine environments, stop the loss of valuable and precious marine diversity, and make good on commitments to ensure a healthy, productive and resilient ocean.

An observer for the European Union said the current session should concentrate on the processes and mechanisms under the new instrument that can, among other things, make progress in areas with emerging convergence around functions and respective treaty provisions.

In line with that view, the representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), expressed a fervent hope that delegations will make sustainable progress during this session towards the development of a draft document.

Throughout the day, delegates highlighted the relevance of promoting capacity building and marine technology transfers that reflect the realities of developing countries, particularly small island developing States.  An observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said such initiatives enable developing States to assume their international obligations and responsibilities.  Similarly, Thailand’s representative said “capacity‑building and transfer of marine technology should correspond to the interest and specific needs of developing States”.

Delegates from States who have not signed the Convention on the Law of the Sea vowed to actively engage in negotiations, but noted that neither their current participation in negotiations, nor the outcome, will affect their legal status as non‑parties to the Convention.  The representative of Colombia, who spoke on behalf of a group of such States, said it is impossible to draft an internationally legitimate instrument through a process that alienates States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  Turkey’s representative explained that, while his country is not a party to that treaty, it was fully committed to the sustainable use of the oceans.

The concerns of landlocked States were also reflected in the discussion by Paraguay’s representative, who spoke on behalf of the landlocked developing countries.  He said the Convention on the Law of the Sea ensures a series of rights for landlocked States and plays a key role in matters of marine scientific research and technology transfer.

Also speaking were the representatives of Algeria (on behalf of the African Group), Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States), Chile (on behalf of Latin American like-minded countries), Togo, Philippines, Myanmar, Iceland, Morocco, Ecuador, Guatemala, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Eritrea, China, India, Norway, Canada, Mauritius, Republic of Korea, Japan, Federated States of Micronesia, Cameroon, Mali and the United States.  The Permanent Observer of the Holy See also spoke.

Representatives of the following organizations also spoke:  International Seabed Authority, International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, International Maritime Organization, International Oceanographic Commission of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, High Seas Alliance, International Council of Environmental Law, and World Wide Fund for Nature International.

In the afternoon, the Conference convened discussions on items on its agenda, beginning with marine genetic resources.  Delegates cited cases of monetary and non-monetary benefits of sharing resources and presented suggestions about ways to reach a consensus on the issue.

Participating in this discussion were representatives of Barbados (on behalf of the Caribbean Community), Belize (on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States), Fiji (on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States), Algeria (on behalf of the African Group), Brazil (on behalf of Latin American like-minded countries), Republic of Korea, Paraguay (on behalf of landlocked developing countries), Switzerland, Turkey, Japan, Russian Federation, United States and Mexico, as well as the State of Palestine (on behalf of the Group of 77) and the European Union.

At the meeting’s outset, the intergovernmental conference adopted the draft provisional agenda (document A/CONF/232/2019/L.1) without a vote.  Delegates also agreed to proceed in accordance with the provisional organization of work (document A.CONF.232/2019/L.2).

The current session of the intergovernmental conference is the second in a series, with the third to take place later in 2019 and the fourth and last session planned for the first half of 2020.

The intergovernmental conference will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 March, to continue its work.

Opening Remarks

RENA LEE (Singapore), President of the intergovernmental conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, opened its second session by recalling its mandate to elaborate such a text as soon as possible.  Negotiations must address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction and must work towards a fair, effective outcome.  The first session in 2018 was “an excellent start to our work and put us on a good path towards the development of the instrument”.  Noting that 2019 marks the twenty‑fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and is a significant year for the oceans, she said:  “We must show flexibility and cooperative spirit to fulfil our mandate.”

MIGUEL DE SERPA SOARES, Under‑Secretary‑General for Legal Affairs, United Nations Legal Counsel, and Secretary‑General of the conference, said recent workshops and events are building on the momentum for the conservation of oceans and their sustainable use.  For example, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity endorsed in 2018 the description of 321 ecologically or biologically significant marine areas, some of which are beyond or straddling national boundaries.  Meanwhile, efforts continue to advance scientific knowledge of oceans, with the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services of the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services covering land‑based ecosystems and the open seas.  Expected to provide a new global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people, the report will be considered for approval at the Intergovernmental Science‑Policy Platform’s seventh session in April.

Emphasizing the critical importance of advancing knowledge, he pointed at examples of activities undertaken within the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development that could make contributions to areas including marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction.  Citing a recent achievement, he said a recent genome‑mapping project successfully sequenced the entire genome of the great white shark, identifying changes that may have helped the species persist for approximately 500 million years longer than almost any vertebrate on Earth.  The project also found certain genes that could accelerate healing in great white sharks and could have potential clinical applications, including in improving wound treatment and fighting cancer in humans.  As the conference commences its second substantive session, he anticipated that common interests in providing future generations with healthy and productive oceans will guide delegations in their negotiations.

General Exchange of Views

FUAD BATEH, observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the efforts and determination shown by all relevant stakeholders who believe in using the seas in a responsible manner resulted in the success of the Preparatory Committee on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.  “Our clear goal is the adoption and implementation of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” he said.  Recognizing that neither participation in ongoing negotiations in the conference nor any related agreement affects the legal status of non‑Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, he said that any new treaty must account for developing countries’ requirements for capacity‑building and marine technology transfers, with a view to enabling them to assume their related responsibilities and obligations.

MEHDI REMAOUN (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the African Group and associating himself with the Group of 77, emphasized a need for effective time management to ensure the success of the Preparatory Committee’s work.  The current session must help delegates to move forward based on a clear set of options that will result in focused discussions and allow the conference President to prepare a zero draft treaty for the third session.  While thanking the Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea for its management of the voluntary trust fund to support the participation of experts, he raised concerns over a lack of funding for a larger number of delegates, noting that coastal and middle‑income countries remain left behind.

JANINE ELIZABETH COYE-FELSON (Belize), speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States and associating herself with the Group of 77, said determination must guide the current work, with an agreement to be concluded in the first half of 2020.  Such an enduring, universal treaty must establish the necessary institutional agreements that will provide responses to protect marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  An essential component must address the capacities of small island developing States, which can also contribute their own tailored responses to pressing challenges, she said, thanking trust fund contributors for enabling the participation of many of the Alliance’s delegations in the conference and partner countries that provided capacity‑building.  For its part, Alliance members will continue to engage with partners to bridge differences to move forward.

ANDREAS PAPACONSTANTINOU, European Union delegation, said that the current session is critical with regards to developing the text of the future agreement, with a strong and viable framework to address conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.  The negotiation process must transform this common goal into concrete treaty provisions, with language developed at the current session leading to a draft treaty that will in turn serve as a basis of negotiations at the third substantive session in August.  The current session should concentrate on the processes and mechanisms under the new instrument that can, among other things, make progress in areas with emerging convergence around functions and respective treaty provisions.  It should also help to strike a balance between providing necessary details and guidance in the treaty text itself and other information that should be developed by a designated body, as appropriate, once the instrument has entered into force.

MARGO DEIYE (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum Group with Missions to the United Nations, emphasized that addressing ocean health is critical.  The Preparatory Committee instrument needs to improve global management and conservation of areas beyond national jurisdiction, to protect marine environments, stop the loss of valuable and precious marine biological diversity and make good on commitments to ensure a healthy, productive and resilient ocean.  Citing recent front‑page reports on plastic waste in oceans, dwindling fish stocks stemming from climate change and heat waves affecting sea temperatures, she said these and other factors should drive a sense of urgency and ambition.  To be effective, the new treaty must incorporate and recognize the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, the special circumstances of small island developing States and the interests of adjacent coastal nations.  It should also provide a goal‑centred structure while promoting greater coherence with existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks in a manner that does not undermine their effectiveness.

JULIETTE RILEY (Barbados), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating herself with the Group of 77 and the Alliance of Small Island States, said small island developing States share an intrinsic relationship with the ocean and remain committed to developing an instrument that facilitates capacity‑building and technology transfers.  “It is CARICOM’s fervent hope that we will make sustainable progress during this session and that we can have a draft document with greater flow,” she said, urging facilitators of informal working groups to identify areas for possible convergence and issues that require in‑depth focus.  She also expressed appreciation to trust fund donors for enabling several experts from the region to participate in the conference.

PETER EMBERSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States and associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States and Pacific Islands Forum, noted with pleasure the conference President’s “Aid to Negotiations” document, which reflects issues of interest to the group.  However, references to adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification are minimal in the document, despite their clear relevance to the Preparatory Committee.  More broadly, any agreements emerging from the conference must promote greater coherence with existing legally binding instruments.  The Convention on the Law of the Sea provides a legal framework for all activities related to the oceans and seas, including the conservation and sustainable use of their resources.  Calling for current negotiations to fill critical gaps in international law, he cautioned against parallel meetings that developing States do not have the resources to attend.

MILENKO SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), speaking on behalf of Latin American like‑minded countries, said the session should aim at shaping the instrument delegates seek to achieve in 2020 by bridging gaps in the options mentioned in the working document and advancing towards a zero draft of the treaty at the conference’s third session.  Calling on delegations to share specific and explanatory approaches to the options set out in the President’s “Aid to Negotiations” document, he emphasized the importance of considering related institutions, mechanisms, arrangements and modalities in an open and productive way.

MANA JULIANA TENONO (Colombia), also speaking for El Salvador, Eritrea, Iran and Turkey, said that as States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea, they actively participated in negotiations during prior Preparatory Committee meetings and the conference’s first session.  Noting that neither their current participation in negotiations, nor the outcome, will affect their legal status as non‑parties to Convention on the Law of the Sea or any other related agreement, as agreed in resolution 69/292, she said the relationship of the new agreement to other treaties and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies should be clearly established.  She raised concerns that the agreed language now reflected in the draft text is only used as an option.  In order to have a universal instrument, the inclusion of agreed language should not be optional, she said, underscoring that many States parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea have requested that the treaty’s negotiation and final text include a clause specifying that no State shall be left behind.  In this vein, she said it is impossible to achieve an internationally legitimate instrument through a process that alienates States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

SIRA SWANGSILPA (Thailand), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the common heritage of mankind must be the underlying principle that governs activities in relation to marine genetic resources.  He called for ambitious targets to establish marine protected areas in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.  “Capacity‑building and transfer of marine technology should correspond to the interest and specific needs of developing States,” he said, emphasizing that the draft text must allow developing States to accelerate their socioeconomic development.

KOKOU KPAYEDO (Togo), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said his country adopted maritime legislation defining its territorial sea in line with the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  However, an international legally binding text is needed on the conservation of marine biology in areas beyond national jurisdiction, he said, adding that the current session offers a clear step forward in this regard.  “Any legally binding instrument must promote coherence and complementarity with existing documents,” he said, noting that Togo benefits from assistance through the voluntary trust fund.

PEYAMI KALYONGU (Turkey), voicing support for using maritime spaces in accordance with international law, said the current conference must be consistent with relevant documents related to biological diversity and marine genetic resources.  While Turkey’s position on the Convention on the Law of the Sea cannot be construed as an objection to its provisions, he emphasized his country’s full commitment to the sustainable use of the oceans and his delegation’s intention to actively participate in negotiations.  He called for clear references to the geographical scope of the Preparatory Committee’s negotiations and that areas beyond national jurisdiction must be understood to be “high seas beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured”.

GENEROSO CALONGE (Philippines) associated himself with the Group of 77, expressing confidence in the path forward outlined for the second session.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), aligning himself with the Group of 77, recalled the successful conclusion of the conference’s first session.  While there are many existing instruments and frameworks covering marine biological diversity in the area beyond national jurisdiction, he said current deliberations should produce a convention that could complement the works of well‑established legal regimes.  In drafting a legally binding instrument, it is necessary to respect the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all States.

MATTHÍAS G. PÁLSSON (Iceland), noting the conference President’s extensive assistance in negotiations, said the result will become a landmark instrument with universal membership.  Pledging Iceland’s will to work with other delegations towards this goal, he cautioned that delegates should be open‑minded and refrain from getting entrenched in different options in the negotiations guide.  In subsequent sessions, time must be taken to negotiate a carefully drafted text to reach a final agreement.

MOHAMMED ATLASSI (Morocco), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said negotiations must result in a zero draft text for a legally binding instrument to be presented at the conference’s third session.  While efforts to aid negotiations can help to narrow gaps in States’ views, success requires the commitment of all and targeted discussions, he said, calling for greater awareness of each delegation’s position.  He underscored the sovereign rights of coastal States over their territorial waters and said capacity‑building and marine technology transfers must benefit developing States.

LUIS XAVIER OÑA GARCÉS (Ecuador), associating himself with the Group of 77 and Chile, said his country hosts great marine biological diversity and remains committed to preserving the marine environment, despite increasing natural pressures.  Marine litter in the Galapagos area drives Quito’s efforts to earmark resources to protect the environment and ensure food security.  The exploitation of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction must account for the effects of ocean dynamics, he said, noting the relevance of existing conservation efforts.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala), associating himself with the Group of 77 and Latin American like‑minded countries, said his country grants great importance to the sustainable use of oceans and marine resources.  Oceans cover 70 per cent of the total surface of the planet and contain thousands of species that are affected by human activities.  The sustainable use of the oceans can build resilience to the impacts of climate change and offer many benefits.  A multilateral instrument for the sustainable use of marine diversity beyond national jurisdiction will help to mitigate adverse activities that endanger marine life.

HASSAN ELSADIG AHMED ABDALHY (Sudan), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, recalled that the first session’s effective and successful work methods, distributing different issues to various working groups, contributed to the proposed convention.  While wide agreement emerged on some points, other areas require further discussion.  As such, the current negotiations will tackle the issues contained in provisions agreed to in 2011, including the preservation of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, preserving genetic resources, benefit‑sharing and establishing managerial frameworks to manage these areas.

TOMASZ GRYSA, observer for the Holy See, said the draft lacks a foundational text, including on how to narrow gaps in varying positions and on which elements are needed to make decisions on environmental impact assessments.  For instance, identifying lists of activities or standards for what must be done in an assessment cannot substitute for the basic scientific targets required in this regard.  A foundational text would establish a clearer basis with respect to biological diversity and ecosystems warranting special attention and to reconciling them with existing provisions of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Seabed Authority and other regulatory bodies.

ARNAZ GHOBADI IANGROUDI (Iran), aligning herself with the Group of 77, recalling that the Preparatory Committee’s work represented a step towards the protection of marine resources for future generations, said “we are not giving oceans the attention they deserve.”  The conference’s first session underscored the urgency of cooperation in this regard, she said, reiterating that the guiding principle underpinning conservation is protecting the common heritage of mankind.  This principle must be considered without prejudice for States not party to the Convention on the Law of the Sea.  The conference must enable all countries to advance development efforts, she said, concluding that capacity‑building and marine technology transfers must recognize the special needs of developing countries.

PENI JUSTICIA MEIDIWATY (Indonesia), associating herself with the Group of 77, said protecting marine biological diversity calls for the participation of the international community as a whole.  It is imperative to consider the input of coastal States, she said, noting that transboundary issues such as pollution go beyond legal boundaries.  Emphasizing that the management of marine genetic resources requires transparency and such principles must be enshrined in international mechanisms, she said “the health of the ocean should be our utmost concern.”

KHURSHED ALAM (Bangladesh), associating himself with the Group of 77, said the conference President’s efforts to assist negotiations provide a sound basis for taking the discussion forward, while addressing the concerns of most delegations.  Maintaining the status quo is no longer an option, he said, adding that the President’s “Aid to Negotiations” document can lead to the more exciting phase of building a consensus on the matter and negotiating a legally binding instrument.

ESSAM YASSIN MOHAMMED (Eritrea), associating himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, affirmed his delegation’s commitment to engage in negotiations in a good spirit and in a constructive way.  The status quo is not a viable option, he said.  Despite the common perception that the high seas are too remote to matter, science has shown that the ocean is a highly interconnected system and protecting the high seas is particularly important to coastal communities.  The treaty must be “future‑proof” so that it remains relevant and responsive to emerging challenges for generations to come.

HAIBO GOU (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said Beijing is prepared to continue negotiations on the terms outlined in the President’s “Aid to Negotiations” document.  Emphasizing that there must be clear understanding of what type of outcome agreement delegations want, he said:  “We must follow international law and cannot harm other global marine mechanisms.”  For any agreement to be fair, the concerns of all stakeholders must be considered, particularly those of developing countries.  Marine genetic resources must be easily accessible with conservation areas that allow for their sustainable use.  “We must continuously build consensus,” he said, urging negotiations remain State‑driven and balanced.

UMASANKAR YEDLA (India), associating himself with the Group of 77, called for negotiations within the framework of the Preparatory Committee to result in a consensus‑based text on the protection of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction that benefits humankind.  India urges the conference to effectively discharge its mandate and not undermine the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

KJELL KRISTIAN EGGE (Norway), underlining the severity of the situation in the oceans due to pollution, microplastics, climate change and other issues, said such elements threaten marine biological diversity.  Luckily, it appears that there is a consensus on the seriousness of the situation and there is a momentum in the room and in the process.  Noting that the package before the conference has four elements, including one on marine genetic resources, he said Norway will be looking for a functional, pragmatic agreement that can provide access to benefits for developing countries and that can encourage research and science while promoting innovation.

ALAIN JELLIER (Canada) said oceans have a great importance for all.  When oceans are in trouble, everyone must respond and react together.  The work in the weeks to come must result in appropriate solutions to protect the health of the oceans and their ecosystems.  Collaboration is needed to develop the tools required to reach common objectives.  Canada intends to maintain an active involvement in the ongoing deliberations and will make good use of the rich exchanges at a recent informal workshop, held in Ottawa, which took place in collaboration with the High Seas Alliance.

RENE FIGUEREDO (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Group of Landlocked Developing Countries, said the Convention on the Law of the Sea ensures a series of rights for landlocked States and plays a key role in matters of marine scientific research and technology transfer, as does the Convention on Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  Indeed, these instruments serve as an international legal framework to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Such framework agreements must be complemented by others addressing specific activities of the use of marine genetic resources and other related activities.

RISHY BUKOREE (Mauritius), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and the Alliance of Small Island States, said that as a small island developing State in Africa, his Government believes it is crucial to ensure the protection of marine biological diversity.  “Time is of an essence and negotiations must bring us to a draft treaty text by the third intergovernmental session,” he said.

JUN‑SHIK WANG (Republic of Korea), noting the usefulness of the “Aid to Negotiations” document, said the President’s guidance contains many different options that highlight a lack of consensus on most issues.  However, there is a lot of work still to be done.  There should not be any premature consensus making.  Instead, the conference should make meaningful progress and his delegation is ready and willing to contribute to getting closer to the point of consensus by being more flexible and open‑minded.

TETSUYA YOSHIMOTO (Japan) said that the President’s assistance promotes a constructive exchange of different views.  Those differences may just be variations in methodology used to achieve the same goal; however, sometimes they reflect alternative philosophies and principles.  A mutually satisfactory way to move forward needs to be found.  Meanwhile, not too much time should be spent on the details, he said, as views on substantive issues need to converge to some extent first.

JEEM LIPPWE (Federated States of Micronesia), associating himself with the Group of 77, Alliance of Small Island States, Pacific Island Forum and the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said his delegation is pleased with the guide to negotiations as it highlights several key issues.  For example, the inclusion of traditional knowledge in the general principles and approaches as well as in specific elements of the document is a profound acknowledgement of the connectivity of traditional knowledge and marine species.  Indeed, science and traditional knowledge can bring about complementarities and synergies, he said.

JEAN KENFACK (Cameroon), aligning himself with the Group of 77 and the African Group, said the “Aid to Negotiations” document presents a framework for ongoing discussions.  Pledging his delegation’s full participation in negotiations, he said Cameroon is committed to the sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.  Delegations must work constructively in developing a treaty text, as legally binding instruments must fill existing gaps in international law.

DIALLO HASSANE (Mali), associating himself with the Group of 77, African Group and landlocked developing countries, said the conference’s work must be inclusive and account for the needs of landlocked States.  The final document must ensure nobody is left behind and conform with existing legally binding texts, he said, noting that Mali attaches importance to sharing the benefits stemming from marine biological resources.

EVAN BLOOM (United States) said a new instrument will result in meaningful science‑based conservation, noting that such an agreement must be consistent with the existing law of the sea regime and must not undermine or duplicate existing frameworks or bodies.  The guidance to negotiations is an appropriate basis from which to work during the session.  Underlining the importance of meeting the legitimate needs of all States on the road to reaching an agreement, he said it will take time and effort to reach a result that has broad and even universal support.

ALFONSO ASCENCIO-HERRERA, International Seabed Authority, said the outcome of the conference is envisaged as an agreement to implement certain provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and not as a stand‑alone agreement.  Efforts must not fragment the law of the sea and negotiations must be conducted within the bounds of the related Convention, which provides a comprehensive regime for areas beyond national jurisdiction.  “The area and its resources are designated as the common heritage of mankind,” he said, noting that, in line with the Convention, the Authority undertakes efforts to develop regional environmental management plans that complement existing area‑based protection measures and tools.  The Authority welcomes all options that respect existing legal instruments and frameworks and calls for focusing on area‑based management tools and environmental impact assessments.  He recalled that the 168 Parties to the Convention on the Law of the Sea are ipso facto members of the Authority.  In the 25 years since its creation, the Authority has developed successful schemes for capacity‑building for developing States, built a comprehensive database on deep sea resources and gained scientific knowledge supporting the management of deep seabed environments.

LYDIA SLOBODIAN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, noting the science‑based and facilitative approach characterizing this conference, said the ocean and its biological diversity do not belong to States alone.  The scientific community, indigenous people and the public should be able to participate in decisions that affect everyone.  Her organization has gathered relevant information and resources, which are available on its website, and which it will continue to update information with a view to assisting ongoing discussions.

TAKEHIRO NAKAMURA, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), tasked with a mandate to promote international cooperation, expressed a readiness to provide further technical input to the conference based on the President’s guidance.  He also underlined a need for cross‑sectoral cooperation and dialogue when addressing threats to marine diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

ALEJANDRO ANGANUZZI, Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), identified the protection of biological diversity as crucial to food security.  Fisheries support the livelihood of over 20 per cent of the global population and face increasing threats from unsustainable exploitation.  FAO recognizes the importance of including biodiversity in its work programmes and is developing a mainstreaming platform to facilitate conservation efforts.  Member States are collaborating to secure sustainable fisheries management outcomes through several FAO‑facilitated partnership efforts.

FREDRIK HAAG, International Maritime Organization (IMO), noting that international shipping is the backbone of global trade, said his group is developing initiatives to mitigate pollution caused by the industry.  Citing a series of guidelines that specifically protect marine biodiversity and ecosystems, he said any future binding text must build on existing mechanisms.

ARIEL TROISI, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), highlighted a need to ensure that the best available scientific knowledge is generated and used to support the elements of the future instrument.  Moreover, through science, new knowledge to address current gaps and uncertainties will be generated.  Ocean science should be interpreted broadly in this context as including social science and human dimensions.  The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission remains ready to assist Member States in elaborating the text of this internationally binding legal instrument.

DUNCAN CURRIE, High Seas Alliance, commending the President’s efforts to guide negotiations, remained encouraged by the constructive statements heard so far that are working towards the establishment of a treaty by 2020.  Reassured by many observations that the status quo is not an option, he said the Alliance gives its full support to an adopted treaty by 2020.  Citing Walt Whitman, he said:  “The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done; From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.”

HIROKO MURAKI GOTTLIEB, International Council of Environmental Law, said the rule of law is an enabling tool to achieve ambitious environmental goals.  Through the rule of law, societies can find ways to thrive on the planet in an inclusive manner.  “Robust stakeholder engagement leads to comprehensive solutions,” she said, calling for creative approaches to protect global ecosystems for future generations.

JESSICA BATTLE, World Wide Fund for Nature International, said negotiations provide the opportunity to create a new deal for nature and for people.  She called on States to address gaps that stand in the way of elaborating a zero draft treaty.  Delivering a holistic response requires the cooperation of Member States and an enhanced cooperation regime is needed to address calls for cooperation in negotiating existing texts.  She called for a cross‑sectoral approach and area‑based negotiations that reflect the diversity of the matter.

Marine Genetic Resources

In the afternoon, the intergovernmental conference examined the issue of marine genetic resources, discussing views on sharing their benefits.  Some representatives of small island States provided examples, with the representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of CARICOM, saying benefits must be interpreted as monetary and non‑monetary.  Among the non‑monetary benefits of a binding treaty is the capacity to conduct marine scientific research, she said, noting that researchers in the region will be able to actively engage in research initiatives.

The representative of Belize, speaking on behalf of the Alliance of Small Island States, said that while benefits apply to all States, special attention must be devoted to the needs of small island developing States.  Islands are more dependent on the oceans than any other States, with fisheries and tourism playing major roles in their economies.

The representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States, said she preferred an option that related to principles and approaches that guide benefit‑sharing.  As such, she called for the proper allocation of resources in anti‑pollution measures, with noted benefits being both monetary or non‑monetary.

Some delegates expressed a desire to see a draft text on the issue of sharing benefits, including an observer for the State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77, and Algeria’s delegate, who spoke on behalf of the African Group.

The representative of Brazil, speaking on behalf of Latin American like‑minded countries, said benefits should be monetary and non-monetary and should be listed either in the treaty itself or in an annex.  Such lists should be non-exhaustive and flexible so they can be updated.  On benefit‑sharing modalities, she said that the option on the voluntary nature of benefits is not a workable choice for the group.

The representative of the Republic of Korea said benefit‑sharing should be limited to non-monetary benefits on a voluntary basis.

An observer for the European Union said that, on benefit-sharing, what he would like to aim at is to operationalize the relevant provisions of the Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The representative of Paraguay, speaking on behalf of the landlocked developing countries, said the Convention on the Law of the Sea recognizes the rights of these States.  Therefore, an acknowledgement of their special requirements and circumstances should also be reflected in the eventual text on this matter and should not be limited to references to capacity‑building and the transfer of technologies.

The representative of Switzerland said that, if a global instrument is to be created, benefit‑sharing should be applied at a global level and not to specific groups.

Also speaking were representatives of Turkey, Japan, Russian Federation, United States and Mexico.

For information media. Not an official record.