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SEA/2124
20 March 2020

Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf Concludes Fifty-Second Session

NEW YORK, 20 March (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) ― The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its fifty-second session at United Nations Headquarters from 27 January to 13 March.  The first plenary part of the session was held from 3 to 7 February and the second part from 2 to 6 March.  The remaining five weeks were devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.

This was the first session of the Commission chaired by Adnan al‑Azri (Oman), who was elected Chairperson of the Commission at the fiftieth session (see Press Release SEA/2109).

Ten Subcommissions met during the fifty-second session to consider Submissions made by the Russian Federation in respect of the Arctic Ocean (partial revised Submission); Brazil in respect of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin (partial revised Submission); France and South Africa jointly, in respect of the area of the Crozet Archipelago and the Prince Edward Islands; Kenya; Nigeria; Palau, in respect of the North Area (partial amended Submission); Sri Lanka; Portugal; Spain, in respect of the area of Galicia (partial Submission); and India (partial Submission).

Some delegations meeting with their respective Subcommisisons were at the high-level:  the delegation of the Russian Federation was headed by the Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Dmitry Kobylkin; the delegation of Nigeria was headed by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami.

At the plenary level, the Commission resumed its consideration of the draft recommendations in regard to the Submissions made by Côte d'Ivoire and France in respect of La Réunion Island and Saint-Paul and Amsterdam islands.  Following extensive deliberations, the Commission approved these recommendations.  Demonstrating the importance of the recommendations for coastal States, a high‑level delegation of Côte d'Ivoire — headed by Adama Toungara (former Minister for Mines, Petroleum Resources and Energy), and comprising the Permanent Representative of Côte d'Ivoire to the United Nations, advisers and experts — paid a visit to the Division to receive the original recommendations directly from the Chairperson of the Commission.

Also during the plenary part of the session, the delegation of Indonesia presented the Submission in respect of the area of North of Papua (Eauripik Rise) made by Indonesia on 11 April 2019.

In addition, during the session, Mauritius submitted an amendment to its partial Submission in respect of the region of Rodrigues Island, the consideration of which had been suspended in 2017 at the request of Mauritius.  The Commission considered the modalities of resuming consideration of that Submission and determined that the respective Subcommission would resume its work after its members have become available, given that they are all currently working on other Submissions.

Following a discussion on the conditions of service of the members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the Commission established an open-ended working group to formulate proposals, also taking into consideration the outcome of the deliberations on that topic during the twenty-ninth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Further details of the fifty-second session will be available in the Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission (document CLCS/52/2).

The Commission will hold its fifty-third session from 6 July to 21 August, with plenary parts to be held from 27 to 30 July and 10 to 14 August.

Background

Established pursuant to article 2, annex II to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography.  They serve in their personal capacities.  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.  Not less than three members shall be elected from each geographical region.  Currently, one seat on the Commission continues to be vacant due to the lack of nominations from the Group of Eastern European States.

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 from developing countries.

Under rule 23 of its rules of procedure (Public and private meetings), the meetings of the Commission, its Subcommissions and subsidiary bodies are held in private, unless the Commission decides otherwise.

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.  In the case of disagreement by the coastal State with the recommendations of the Commission, the coastal State shall, within a reasonable time, make a revised or new submission to the Commission.

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 Convention.  The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm.  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 www.un.org/depts/los/index.htm.  In particular, the most recent statements by the Chair on the progress in the work of the Commission are available at www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/commission_documents.

For information media. Not an official record.