Source: AUN News
The new pact seeks to codify international law regarding territorial seas, sea lanes, and marine resources amid demands for adaptability, openness, and the spirit of compromise that prevailed in 1982 when the groundbreaking “constitution for the oceans” was adopted.
The General Assembly decided to call the session, which will last until August 26. It is anticipated to be the last of a series that has been ongoing since 2018 to draught a legally binding international document under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas outside of national jurisdiction.
Revised negotiations with anchors
President of the Intergovernmental Conference Rena Lee encouraged delegates to get their hands dirty as they dug into the technical and legal specifics, saying, “I am hoping that we can make meaningful progress in these two weeks, to agree as soon as possible.”
She recalled that resolution 72/249, dated December 24, 2017, mandated the previous four sessions and stated that the negotiations are to deal with marine genetic resources, including concerns about benefit-sharing and policies like area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, capacity-building, and the transfer of marine technology.
After researching every suggestion given following the fourth session, she created a new, amended draught of the agreement.
Delegates were also asked to submit textual ideas for the fifth session, according to Ms. Lee, who noted that an article-by-article compilation was released in the first few days of August.
Delegations received two informal background materials that had been sought, one on global ocean financing and the other on resource requirements, should the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea be named as the agreement’s secretariat.
The objective: Widespread participation
She urged the Member States to “squeeze our creative juices to develop solutions that can gather support” and exercise the utmost flexibility to reach the necessary consensus, noting appeals for the Intergovernmental Conference to be concluded this year.
Let’s work to produce an agreement that is equitable, well-balanced, implementable, and will encourage widespread participation, she said. “Let us not allow the ideal to be the enemy of the just.”
The “important” fifth session, which followed the Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, was opened by UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares, who also oversees the Organization’s Legal Affairs division and serves as the Intergovernmental Conference’s Secretary-General.
Participants at the conference, which took place from June 27 to July 1, sought to stop the decline in the ocean’s health, resiliency, productivity, and resources.
Keeping promises made in Lisbon
The top UN official expressed optimism that the numerous requests for the Intergovernmental Conference to wrap up its work swiftly will be among the hundreds of commitments made in Lisbon to be immediately implemented.
What better way to demonstrate our commitment to action than to complete a strong agreement that guarantees the preservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the deepest ocean basins? He pondered.
A recent addition to the family
The UN Legal Counsel affirmed that it is time to demonstrate the true spirit of multilateral collaboration at this crucial juncture.
He expressed the hope that delegates will be even more adaptable to ensure the ocean “gets what it urgently needs” and prevent the extinction of marine life under their watch.
Mr. Soares concluded by expressing his desire to welcome a new accord into “the law of the sea family” later this year when the world commemorates the Law of the Sea Convention’s 40th anniversary.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network