UNITAR and the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea briefing on recent developments in Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea
11 September 2013, New York, USA - The briefing provided information on selected recent developments in the field of oceans and the law of the sea to interested delegates. It aimed to especially serve delegates dealing with the subject-matter, and especially to those who would be participating in informal consultations on the draft General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea and sustainable fisheries. Focus was placed on the outcomes of the meetings of bodies established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as well as subsidiary bodies of the General Assembly dealing with the law of the sea. In addition, the briefing also included a discussion panel to consider oceans in the context of forthcoming processes established pursuant to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio in 2012 (Rio + 20).
Mr. Vladimir Jares, Deputy Director of DOALOS and Mr. Robert Sandev, Senior Geographic Information Officer of DOALOS illustrated the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS. Mr. Robert Sandev offered the delegates an insight in the work with the GIS (Geographic Information System) which is a collection of software, hardware and data. Mr. Robert Sandev proceeded to show how Delegates can access the webpage that provides this data and how to use the interface.
Mr. Stephen Mathias gave a keynote address and illustrated the work of the office of legal affairs. He pointed out that the OLA provides an audio-visual library of international law that holds many lectures on international law and might be of great interest to the delegates. Mr. Mathias stated that a wide approach is needed concerning issues of ocean space. UNCLOS therefore remains the critical tool for solving ocean related conflicts, where the GA provides the harmonizing framework for a global approach to ocean affairs.
Ms. Annabeth Rosenboom spoke about the World Ocean Assignment and pointed out as well that an approach to ocean affairs needs to be integral and not sectoral. Ms. A. Hicuburundi addressed the topic of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. This is of great interest to the UN because nearly 2/3 of the oceans are beyond national jurisdiction. There is no overall cross-sectoral coordinating mechanism to address conflicts. Further, pollution, plastic, heavy metal in the sea, over exploitation of the seas and ocean acidification affect the concerns about oceans.
In the following discussion panel, H.E. Mr. Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia, the Permanent Representative of the Independent State of Samoa to the United Nations, Mr. Peter Kenilorea, the Programme Officer of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States and Ms. Julie Ritz, the Sustainable Development Officer, Small Island Developing States, Oceans and Climate Branch spoke about oceans in the context of the forthcoming processes established pursuant to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio in 2012 (Rio + 20). The discussion panel illustrated the importance of Small Island States since these are ocean-locked and have a dependent relationship to the oceans. Regardless of being small states, the share of the Small Island States in the size of the ocean is comparatively large. This results in the fact, that SIDS do have a large proportion of for instance of tuna catch in the international trade but the benefits from that remain still relatively low. Furthermore, overfishing, pollution etc pose a serious threat to the sustainable development of the SIDS.
Francois Bailet shed light on the DOALOS trust funds and its capacity-building fellowship for government officials, research fellows or lecturers. Within these, the Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme has an alumni program to accompany individuals after their fellowship programme ends. Among the participants of the seminar, one alumni of the fellowship programme was present and highlighted the valuable experiences he made being a fellow.