The eleventh meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process or ICP-11) took place from 21-25 June 2010, at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting brought together over 300 representatives from governments, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and academic institutions.
Delegates convened in plenary sessions throughout the week to discuss: a general exchange of views on capacity building in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the General Assembly on ocean affairs and the law of the sea; process for the selection of topics and panelists so as to facilitate the work of the UN General Assembly; and consideration of the outcome of the meeting. In addition, a discussion panel was held to consider capacity building in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science.
A Co-Chairs’ summary of ICP-11’s discussions was prepared Thursday evening by Co-Chairs Amb. Paul Badji (Senegal) and Amb. Don MacKay (New Zealand) and distributed Friday morning for consideration in plenary. Co-Chair Badji emphasized that the summary is intended for reference purposes only, reflecting a “natural consensus” of the plenary and panel discussions. After discussing the report paragraph by paragraph it was accepted and will be submitted to the UN General Assembly for consideration at its 65th session under the agenda item, “Oceans and the law of the sea.”
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE LAW OF THE SEA AND THE CONSULTATIVE PROCESS
On 1 November 1967, Malta’s Ambassador to the UN, Arvid Pardo, asked the nations of the world to recognize a looming conflict that could devastate the oceans. In a speech to the General Assembly, he called for “an effective international regime over the seabed and the ocean floor beyond a clearly defined national jurisdiction.” The speech set in motion a process that spanned 15 years and saw the creation of the UN Seabed Committee, the signing of a treaty banning nuclear weapons on the seabed, the adoption of a declaration by the General Assembly that all resources of the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction are the common heritage of mankind, and the convening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. These were some of the factors that led to the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, during which the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was adopted.
UNCLOS: Opened for signature on 10 December 1982, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, at the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS sets forth the rights and obligations of states regarding the use of the oceans, their resources, and the protection of the marine and coastal environment. UNCLOS entered into force on 16 November 1994, and is supplemented by the 1994 Deep Seabed Mining Agreement and the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFSA).
GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 54/33: On 24 November 1999, the General Assembly adopted resolution 54/33 on the results of the review undertaken by the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at its seventh session on the theme of “Oceans and seas.” In this resolution, the General Assembly established an open-ended informal consultative process to facilitate the annual review of developments in oceans affairs. The General Assembly decided that the Consultative Process would meet in New York and consider the Secretary-General’s annual report on oceans and the law of the sea, and suggest particular issues to be considered by the General Assembly, with an emphasis on identifying areas where intergovernmental and interagency coordination and cooperation should be enhanced. The resolution further established the framework within which meetings of the Consultative Process would be organized, and decided that the General Assembly would review the effectiveness and utility of the Consultative Process at its 57th session.
ICP-1 to 3: The first three meetings of the Consultative Process identified issues to be suggested and elements to be proposed to the General Assembly, and highlighted issues that could benefit from attention in its future work. The first meeting of the Consultative Process (30 May-2 June 2000) held discussion panels addressing fisheries, and the impacts of marine pollution and degradation. The second meeting (7-11 May 2001) focused on marine science and technology, and coordination and cooperation in combating piracy and armed robbery at sea. The third meeting (8-15 April 2002) held discussion panels on the protection and preservation of the marine environment, capacity building, regional cooperation and coordination, and integrated oceans management.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION 57/141: On 12 December 2002, the 57th session of the General Assembly adopted resolution 57/141 on “Oceans and the law of the sea.” The General Assembly welcomed the previous work of the Consultative Process, extended it for an additional three years, and decided to review the Consultative Process’ effectiveness and utility at its 60th session.
ICP-4 and 5: The fourth meeting of the Consultative Process (2-6 June 2003) adopted recommendations on safety of navigation, the protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems, and cooperation and coordination on oceans issues. The fifth meeting (7-11 June 2004) adopted recommendations on new sustainable uses of oceans, including the conservation and management of the biological diversity of the seabed in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
ICP-6: The sixth meeting (6-10 June 2005) adopted recommendations on fisheries and their contribution to sustainable development, and considered the issue of marine debris.
ICP-7: The seventh meeting (12-16 June 2006) enhanced understanding of ecosystem-based management, and adopted recommendations on ecosystem approaches and oceans.
ICP-8: The eighth meeting (25-29 June 2007) discussed issues particularly related to marine genetic resources. Delegates were unable to agree on key language referring to the relevant legal regime for marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction and, as a result, no recommendations were adopted. However, a Co-Chairs’ summary report was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.
ICP-9: the ninth meeting (23-27 June 2008) adopted recommendations on the necessity of maritime security and safety in promoting the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
ICP-10: The tenth meeting (17-19 June 2009) produced a Co-Chairs’ summary report collating outcomes of its discussions on the implementation of the outcomes of the Consultative Process, including a review of achievements and shortcomings in its first nine years, which was forwarded to the General Assembly for consideration.
On Monday, 21 June 2010, Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, opened the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea and described the importance of capacity building in ocean affairs and sustainable development, including its ability to: enable states to effectively implement UNCLOS; strengthen capacities of developing countries to achieve Johannesburg Plan of Implementation commitments; develop the marine scientific and technological capacity of developing countries; and enable cooperation among stakeholders.
Co-Chair Amb. Paul Badji (Senegal) noted the “new footing” of ICP-11 as it follows ICP-10, where participants took stock of the Consultative Process’s work thus far. He hoped for a successful meeting and called on parties to sufficiently replenish the Trust Fund.
Co-Chair Amb. Don MacKay (New Zealand) underscored that capacity building is at the heart of all states’ abilities to benefit fully from UNCLOS and is fundamental for the full implementation of the Convention for both developing and developed states. He encouraged an interactive discussion.
Patricia O’Brien, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the UN Legal Counsel, noted: capacity building’s significance for helping states comply with UNCLOS; that outcomes of capacity-building activities lack a comprehensive needs assessment; and her hope that ICP-11 would create a common understanding of capacity-building needs, and identify opportunities and possible ways forward.
Co-Chair MacKay introduced the meeting’s agenda (A/AC.259/L.11), which was adopted without amendment.
DISCUSSION PANEL on capacity building on ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science
The discussion panel on capacity building on ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science, took place on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The panel was organized in four segments that covered: assessing capacity-building needs; an overview of capacity-building initiatives and activities; challenges for achieving effective capacity building; and new approaches, best practices, and opportunities for improved capacity building. Discussion also addressed the transfer of marine technology.
ASSESSING THE NEED FOR CAPACITY BUILDING IN OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA, INCLUDING MARINE SCIENCE: On Monday afternoon, Phillip Saunders, Dalhousie University, reviewed the legal history of capacity building in the law of the sea, noting that it was inherent and justified in the “grand bargain” of UNCLOS as it was vital for, inter alia, effectively implementing the Convention and equitably sharing ocean benefits. He noted progress in capacity building as demonstrated by the Secretary-General’s report (A/65/69), and closed by emphasizing the continuing importance of dedicated financing arrangements and “soft” capacity assistance.
Åsmund Bjordal, Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, said the four pillars of sustainable fisheries management are: science, fisheries legislation, control of fishing activities, and violation sanctions. He then discussed Norway’s Nansen Programme on strengthening the knowledge base for, and implementing an ecosystem approach to, marine fisheries in developing countries.
Su’a N. F. Tanielu, Director-General, Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, presented the Pacific small island developing states’ (SIDS) perspective on capacity building, stressing the substantial tuna catches by distant water fleets within Pacific SIDS’ exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and underscored the need for further capacity and resources in the region. He said the Part VII Fund of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) helps build capacity to conserve, manage and develop fisheries and facilitates participation in high seas fisheries.
On Tuesday morning, Germain Michel Ranjoanina, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Madagascar, discussed the process of reworking Madagascar’s maritime code, noting that an assessment of its chapters revealed a gap between legislation and implementation possibly due to a lack of: technical and financial resources; coordination of activities on the high seas; political will; and sufficient knowledge of existing legal instruments.
Fabiola Jiménez Morán Sotomayor, Mexican Foreign Relations Secretariat, presented for Galo Carrera, Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), and Rebeca Navarro, PEMEX, on capacity building for the implementation of UNCLOS Article 76. She said delineating the outer limits of the continental shelf is technically complex and expensive for developing and least developed countries, and underscored that training courses, advice by the CLCS and assistance to states through the CLCS Trust Fund have been undertaken, but still need to be expanded.
Peter Gilruth, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said UNEP uses science to address critical ocean challenges, and reviewed capacity-building lessons from UNEP activities, including: the Regional Seas Programme’s work building capacity for ecosystem based management, climate change adaptation and marine spatial planning; and the Online Access to Research in the Environment programme, which gives developing countries access to environmental science research.
In the ensuing discussions, delegates addressed, inter alia:
- the poor quality of certain fisheries statistics;
- comparing countries’ implementation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as a capacity-building exercise;
- the mechanisms donors use to identify needs for capacity building programmes and partnerships, and the importance of tailoring programmes to country needs;
- raising contributions to the Part VII Fund of the UNFSA;
- improving access of developing-country fisheries to catches in their EEZs and the high seas by building domestic fishing capacity;
- capacity building needed to help developing countries establish jurisdictional limits;
- barriers science-based decision-making can create for smaller countries;
- the implications of international and national intellectual property law for technology transfer;
- the enforcement of flag state provisions adopted by some regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs);
- calls for a database to compile capacity-building assistance programmes and needs; and
- challenges of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, sustainable fisheries management and lack of capacity to monitor EEZs.
A more detailed summary of these presentations and discussions is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2561e.html and http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2562e.html
OVERVIEW OF CAPACITY-BUILDING ACTIVITIES AND INITIATIVES IN OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA, INCLUDING MARINE SCIENCE AND TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY: On Tuesday, Juan Carlos Martín Fragueiro, Ministry of Environment, Rural and Marine Affairs, Spain, discussed Spain’s strategy for cooperation and coordination in ocean affairs. Fragueiro said future strategies will focus on, inter alia, the co-responsibilities of developing countries and collaborations to better use scarce economic resources.
Mitsuyuki Unno, The Nippon Foundation, presented on the Foundation’s programmes on marine affairs capacity building. He noted that through collaborative partnerships the Foundation has promoted connections across disciplines and organizations, and highlighted the importance of the UN-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme, which has awarded 60 fellowships to individuals from 43 states.
Serguei Tarassenko, Director, UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), reviewed DOALOS’s capacity-building activities including: the administration of trust funds, such as the CLCS Trust Fund; fellowship programmes, such as the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea that helps fellows gain deeper knowledge of UNCLOS; and training activities.
Haiwen Zhang, China Institute for Marine Affairs, discussed China’s capacity-building activities with an emphasis on South-South Cooperation and improved information exchange, and provided an overview of the marine management structure. To improve capacity building, she highlighted the need for: more knowledge of oceans and marine management; relevant technologies, equipment and instrumentation; and improved human and financial resources.
Ehrlich Desa, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO/IOC), presented on the development of capacity of member states in ocean sciences and observation. He highlighted that capacity development of IOC member states is a cross-cutting issue with the long-term objective of improving ocean governance through good science and its interface with decision makers. Desa recommended that science-based oceans governance should, inter alia: address national priorities, empower national institutes, and involve civil society.
Nii Odunton, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority (ISA), presented on ISA’s Endowment Fund, which supports the participation of scientists from developing countries in marine scientific research programmes, activities, and relevant initiatives and seminars.
Marcel Kroese, International Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Network for Fisheries-related Activities (IMCS Network), stressed the economic, social, and ecological impacts of IUU fishing. He said the Network is a voluntary initiative that provides an efficient, non-bureaucratic mechanism for cooperation on IUU fishing, such as providing analytic support to identify vessels involved in IUU fishing.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates addressed, inter alia:
- how to match training given by developed states to the specific realities of developing states;
- application procedures for fellowships and the proportion of past fellows that have been government officials;
- access requirements for the Part VII Fund of UNFSA;
- means of collaboration with developing countries to determine capacity-building needs;
- the appropriate role of science in decision-making;
- building institutional capacity versus training individual experts;
- the definition of IUU and how the IMCS Network facilitates information sharing and optimizes monitoring efforts; and
- technology transfer.
A more detailed summary of these presentations and discussions is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2562e.html
CHALLENGES FOR ACHIEVING EFFECTIVE CAPACITY BUILDING IN OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA, INCLUDING MARINE SCIENCE AND TRANSFER OF TECHNOLOGY: On Wednesday morning, Cristelle Pratt, South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, presented on research, development and management of non-living resources in the Pacific islands, noted the region’s need for, inter alia, institutions, marine experts and scientists, and research vessels, and proposed applying lessons from cooperation on fisheries to governance of non-living resources.
Alfa Lebgaza, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, Togo, described Togo’s implementation of UNCLOS and challenges to plans for further implementation, and highlighted a need for marine research centers.
Kazuhiro Kitazawa, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC), presented on: the importance of capacity building for marine science and implementation of UNCLOS; addressing gaps in scientific knowledge and technology; and solving the problem of technology transfer through UNESCO/IOC criteria.
On Wednesday afternoon, Andrew Hudson, UN Development Programme, discussed challenges from the International Waters portfolio of projects, highlighting challenges related to: policy, institutional and legal frameworks; financing; communication and advocacy; training and capacity tools; and the future.
Tumi Tόmasson, UN University-Fisheries Training Programme (UNU-FTP), noted extensive changes in the fisheries sector, and described the experiences of UNU-FTP, which has trained 205 fellows from 40 countries. He stressed the need to, inter alia, build individual and collective capacity in development cooperation and effectively translate science into management actions.
In the discussion that followed, delegates addressed, inter alia:
- the relationship between SIDS and the private sector in deep seabed mining;
- the UNESCO/IOC guidelines;
- patent issues;
- the ecosystem approach;
- existing capacity building;
- policy research and education projects; and
- the work of UN-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme advisor François Bailet.
A more detailed summary of the presentations and discussion is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2563e.html
NEW APPROACHES, BEST PRACTICES AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVED CAPACITY BUILDING IN OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA: On Wednesday afternoon, Raphael Lotilla, Executive Director, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA), presented on PEMSEA’s regional capacity-building programmes and development of tools, emphasizing the importance of partnerships among country and non-country parties.
Imèn Meliane, The Nature Conservancy, highlighted the importance of capacity building to NGO activities, such as training and improving the science base of decision-making, said web-based peer-to-peer exchanges are effective tools, and noted the importance of helping organizations gain abilities in, inter alia, financial management and proposal writing.
Narmoko Prasmadji, Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, and Food Security (CTI), discussed the marine biodiversity of the coral triangle region, sometimes termed the “Amazon of the Seas,” the threats it faces, and CTI’s work to improve and strengthen the knowledge base for protecting resources in the region.
In the ensuing discussion, which continued on Thursday morning, delegates addressed, inter alia:
- funding of marine protected areas (MPAs);
- a rights-based approach to fisheries;
- involvement of landlocked countries in ocean issues;
- the lack of a global inventory of capacity-building needs;
- suggestions for a DOALOS clearinghouse to match capacity-building partners; and
- the need for capacity building on intellectual property.
A more detailed summary of the presentations and discussion is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2563e.html and http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2564e.html
GENERAL EXCHANGE OF VIEWS ON CAPACITY BUILDING IN OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA, INCLUDING MARINE SCIENCE
On Monday morning, Co-Chair Badji introduced the agenda item and opened the floor for a general exchange of views, which was also addressed in plenary on Thursday and Friday.
Yemen, for the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China), urged in-depth discussions at ICP-11 that reflect the perspectives of developing countries, particularly on the need for capacity building in respect to Article 76 of UNCLOS on the delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf. Australia, for the Pacific Islands Forum, supported by Palau, said targeted national capacity building is vital for SIDS. He called for strengthened capacity to implement monitoring, control, and surveillance to combat IUU fishing.
Underlining the finances committed by developed countries at the fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Copenhagen, Spain, for the European Union (EU), pointed to many existing sources for guidance on capacity building, such as the seven programme areas for capacity building identified in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21. Australia explained that it assists its neighbors with capacity building by helping, inter alia, with science for delineating the outer limits of the continental shelf. Palau stressed that science-based decision making requires open access to information, such as from the RFMOs. Chile stressed that capacity building needs to include human, financial, institutional and other dimensions if it is to advance sustainable development.
Trinidad and Tobago, supporting the G-77/China, said that even though its ocean legislation involves surveillance, the region remains vulnerable to IUU from developed-country fleets. Mexico said Part XIV of UNCLOS, on development and transfer of marine technology, and the UN General Assembly resolutions 64/71 and 64/72, provide guidance on capacity building, and introduced topics for consideration, including training for energy development in marine areas.
Norway emphasized that her country’s marine policy focuses on an integrated ecosystem-based approach, and that a cross-sectoral approach is key to achieving this. Japan highlighted her country’s capacity-building programmes in the area of marine science, including those of the JAMSTEC. India said since capacity building varies widely across regions, opportunities in this area need to be identified based on existing capacity-building arrangements. China said financial, scientific and human resources are the foundation of capacity building.
New Zealand highlighted its capacity-building assistance in the South Pacific region. Argentina underscored the importance of South-South cooperation as an innovative tool for enhancing capacity building. Malaysia expressed support for UN programmes on capacity building, including the UNESCO/IOC programmes on enhanced cooperation and transfer of technologies. The US said capacity building is essential for the implementation of UNCLOS, but noted limited information on capacity building and on the specific needs of developing countries.
On Thursday afternoon, Iceland suggested further discussions on analysis of reliable fisheries information and better means to monitor the status of stocks. On assessing the need for capacity building, Mauritania urged cooperation among Northwest African countries to promote coastline protection. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean addressed challenges faced in the Mediterranean Sea regarding free access to the high seas, busy shipping routes, overfishing and land-based sources of pollution. South Africa called for capacity building on, inter alia, effects of climate change on the oceans, MPAs, and IUU fishing.
Thailand said capacity building should be improved through coordination between the international, regional and national levels, especially in areas such as implementation of the ecosystem-based approach. IUCN reviewed complementary international processes for improving the knowledge base of ocean management, including the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative. The International Hydrographic Organization stressed its work as essential for maritime trade and reviewed its phased approach for helping countries meet the requirements set by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. The Natural Resources Defense Council stressed the deleterious effects of marine pollution, particularly ocean noise.
The International Container Bureau said its work increases the scope, efficiency and safety of trade, but that awareness raising and better compliance are still needed on container registration requirements. Indonesia supported calls for a database to match capacity-building programmes with countries’ needs and said long-standing barriers must be overcome, such as technology transfer.
On Friday morning, the Solomon Islands, for the Pacific Island States, underscored that capacity building is a cross cutting issue, as identified in the Mauritius Strategy for the Implementation (MSI) of the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of SIDS. She said outcomes from ICP-11 should inform the MSI+5 High Level Review in September 2010, and called for tangible outcomes, such as technology transfer, not just training, to ensure local experts have access to marine research equipment and to reduce “brain drain.” Nigeria expressed the urgent need for capacity building and technology transfer, with priority given to least developed countries, SIDS and coastal states in Africa to help implement UNCLOS and ensure access to benefits from the sustainable use of oceans.
Venezuela reaffirmed the importance it attaches to the Consultative Process, highlighted the need to bear in mind the financial constraints of developing countries, and called on the international community and UN to extend its cooperation in this regard, especially related to capacity building and technology transfer.
INTER-AGENCY COOPERATION AND COORDINATION
On Thursday morning, Andrew Hudson, UN-Oceans, provided an update of UN-Oceans members’ activities, including: progress on the use of biogeographic classification systems and criteria for identifying marine areas beyond national jurisdiction in need of protection in accordance with the Convention on Biological Diversity Decision IX/20; Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) work on coastal pollution, microplastic, biomagnifications and top-predators; the need for further financial assistance to the UN-Atlas; and relocation of the UN-Oceans website to the FAO domain.
ISSUES THAT COULD BENEFIT FROM ATTENTION IN FUTURE WORK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON OCEAN AFFAIRS AND THE LAW OF THE SEA
On Thursday morning, delegates were invited to suggest topics for the next ICP session based on the streamlined list of issues that could benefit from attention in future work of the UN General Assembly, prepared by the Co-Chairs, or to propose other topics.
Yemen, for G-77/China, supported by Brazil, Argentina and the US, suggested examining progress on the implementation of the commitments on oceans made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development, as this would provide a valuable contribution to the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) process.
Mexico proposed liability for damage to marine biological diversity and Part XII of UNCLOS on the protection of the marine environment, especially on pollution from seabed activities subject to national jurisdiction.
Spain, for the EU, proposed issues that have not yet been addressed by this forum, such as: different uses of oceans and associated threats; integrated management approaches of human activities, through an ecosystem-based approach; pollution minimization; and environmental impact assessment tools. Australia suggested integrated management approaches to address pollution, including land-based sources of pollution.
IUCN expressed interest in reviewing the role of prior environmental assessment in the conservation and management of oceans and human activities that affect the marine environment, as well as in the importance of ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change on oceans and coasts.
New Zealand pointed to the issue of marine pollution as a topic needing special attention. Argentina opposed the Consultative Process discussing issues addressed under different fora, notably climate change, and suggested means for the operationalization of Part XIV of UNCLOS for enhancing capacity in marine science. The US noted the importance of all topics in the streamlined list and looked forward to future discussions.
A more detailed summary of this discussion is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2564e.html
PROCESS FOR THE SELECTION OF TOPICS AND PANELISTS SO AS TO FACILITATE THE WORK OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
On Thursday afternoon, Co-Chair MacKay introduced this agenda item, and summarized last year’s discussion on the topic (A/64/131), including, inter alia, the need for the process to: contribute to sustainable development in a transparent, informal and inclusive manner; prioritize the issues to be tackled and identify them early; disseminate background and concept papers with regard to the topic; and not preclude itself from discussing topics that are in other fora.
Yemen, for the G-77/China, suggested that the proposed themes for the following ICP meetings should be based on a concept paper, which would, inter alia: be consistent with UNCLOS and Agenda 21; avoid the creation of new institutions, as well as duplication and overlapping of negotiations occurring in other fora; and be based on the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
Mexico, supported by Mauritania and Togo, suggested the participation of panelists from all regions of the world. She also requested a more effective and expeditious mechanism for the participation of developing countries’ experts.
Chile concurred with the G-77/China, but also proposed the analysis of, inter alia: the implementation of international instruments in force; IUU fishing; conservation measures that can be adopted by states; and the responsibilities of flag states in all marine areas. Spain, for the EU, stressed that proposals for new topics should be submitted well in advance to improve the transparency of the process and be accompanied by background papers to support their proposals.
North East Atlantic Fisheries Commission said ICP-11 has devoted much of its attention to fisheries, and noted that regional and local discussions have a better chance to promote sustainable fisheries.
A more detailed summary of this discussion is available at: http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2564e.html
CONSIDERATION OF THE OUTCOME OF THE MEETING
A Co-Chairs’ summary of ICP-11’s discussions was prepared Thursday evening and distributed Friday morning. The report collated the week’s discussions on: an overview of, assessing needs for, challenges to, and new approaches, best practices and opportunities for improved capacity building in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science, as well as technology transfer; inter-agency cooperation and coordination; issues meriting attention in future work of the General Assembly; and the process for the selection of topics and panelists by the General Assembly for future meetings of the Consultative Process.
Co-Chair Badji said where possible, the Co-Chairs identified potential areas of “natural consensus” among delegates, but stressed that the report is intended as a reference document only and should not be construed as a verbatim record of the discussions. Still, he urged delegates to look for shortcomings, gaps and omissions to make it as comprehensive as possible. After a 30-minute suspension of the meeting to enable delegates to review the report, delegates discussed the report in blocks of paragraphs.
On capacity building in ocean affairs and the law of the sea, including marine science, and the process for the selection of topics and panelists by the General Assembly, delegates suggested changes to various paragraphs to correct factual problems and clarify support for and reservations about particular observations made during the week, when divergent opinions emerged.
On issues meriting future attention in work of the General Assembly, discussion focused on: topics omitted from the report, namely, preparations for the Rio+20 process, threats to oceans, and improved fisheries statistics; amendments to the existing list of topics; and the appropriateness of having the Consultative Process discuss topics covered by other fora, particularly climate change.
Following the discussion of suggested amendments and changes, the entire document was accepted as a whole, and Co-Chair Badji noted that it will be forwarded to the President of the General Assembly.
Serguei Tarassenko, Director, DOALOS, reminded delegates of the depleted status of the ICP Trust Fund, which supports developing-country experts to participate in the work of the Consultative Process, and the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Fellowship, which helps candidates acquire specialized knowledge of UNCLOS and broaden its application. He urged replenishment.
In closing, Co-Chair MacKay thanked colleagues for ICP-11’s discussions, noting that they were rich and worthwhile, said the week spotlighted the great amount of work taking place in relation to capacity building and the law of the sea, and hoped to see the meeting’s practical impact through improved capacity building, with a starting point being a collation of capacity-building efforts on the DOALOS website. He also hoped the summary of the discussion would be reflected in the UN General Assembly resolution on ICP-12’s topic and thanked UN-DOALOS Secretary Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli for her 23 years of service, saying she is moving on to a new position within the UN.
Co-Chair Badji noted that the Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions can serve as a reference document when it comes to everything pertaining to capacity building dealing with oceans and the law of the sea, urged replenishment of the trust funds, and thanked all participants, wishing them safe travels. He closed the meeting at 4:29 pm.
A BRIEF ANALYSIS OF ICP-11
The eleventh meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (Consultative Process or ICP-11) occurred amidst the charged atmosphere of the 2010 World Cup and the somber realizations of the environmental, economic and social costs of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While the former merely provided delegates from developed and developing countries a common topic of conversation between and sometimes during meetings, the latter raised the salience of ICP-11’s focus on “capacity building as it relates to ocean affairs and the law of the sea.”
That ICP-11 had capacity building as the topic of discussion reflects developments over the last few years. Developing countries increasingly voiced the need to be heard in the Consultative Process and therefore requested a review of ICP’s mandate in 2009, saying it had veered from advancing sustainable development, as evidenced by ICP topics such as Maritime Safety and Security. As a result, ICP-11’s topic of capacity building was seen as a developing-country focused topic. Despite interest among some developed countries in the topic of climate change, it was agreed during the 64th session of UN General Assembly that ICP-11 would tackle capacity building, a subject broad enough to include discussions on climate change. Yet surprisingly, climate change was dropped from the agenda during the preparatory meeting in March.
Given this ongoing disagreement, there was anticipation that the World Cup’s intensity would permeate the week’s discussions, particularly when topics for future consideration were considered. Yet a calm atmosphere pervaded the meeting, with delegates keenly agreeing on the importance of strengthening capacity building. While some tug of war occurred between developing and developed countries over the need for more assistance balanced against the constraints of the global economic crisis, most delegates left the meeting as calm as they entered. While this could represent success, it could also mean a lack of interest in the ICP.
This brief analysis of ICP-11 highlights successes, challenges and possible ways forward for the Informal Consultative Process.
PLAYING AS A TEAM
It was clear from the beginning of the meeting that there was consensus on the importance of capacity building and transfer of marine technology, especially in developing countries that are struggling to control, manage and benefit from their maritime zones. Capacity building is especially needed in relation to fisheries, delineation of the outer limits of the continental shelf and deep seabed mining. The agreement on the serious need to address capacity-building shortfalls and willingness to act was tempered by concerns over the strained global economy, and in turn, ICP’s depleted funds. To overcome these financial constraints, delegates realized that the gaps in capacity building would need to be identified, prioritized and then solved by optimizing the use of existing programmes. Consensus emerged on having DOALOS host on its website a unified clearing-house mechanism on capacity-building activities and needs as a first step towards connecting donors with beneficiaries.
Delegates also discussed challenges associated with the transfer of marine technology. Some noted that Part XIV of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), on the development and transfer of marine technology, constitutes “one of the major implementation gaps of the Convention,” pointing to the lack of concrete transfers to assist developing countries in benefiting from their marine resources. The UNESCO/IOC Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, which state that IOC should collaboratively develop a clearing-house mechanism for the transfer of marine technology to facilitate effective scientific, technical and financial cooperation, were identified as a potential solution. Even though this clearing-house does not yet exist, an application process is in place to facilitate marine technology transfer. One participant noted the “perfect complement” this would be to DOALOS’ pending database.
Another success occurred on a procedural note. Past ICPs have featured debate about the selection of topics and panelists with concern over limited lead time and balanced representation of experts. Responding to this, delegates expressed support for more transparent criteria for the selection of topics, and agreed that the proposed topics should be accompanied by a concept paper made available at least one week prior to the meeting. This has the potential to bolster the process by making the topic clearer, focusing discussion, and fostering trust among participants.
Despite the Co-Chairs’ attention to detail and expert facilitation backed by an effective Secretariat and attentive delegates, the proceedings were still described by some as “very boring.” This was due partly to the ease with which agreement was reached on the need for capacity building, and partly to the absence of climate change as a topic under the umbrella of capacity building, and was clearly exacerbated by the exciting distraction of the World Cup. The presentations were useful, but some noted that they could have been scheduled for fewer days and focused more on ways forward, with particular attention to mechanisms that assess and act on the capacity-building needs of developing countries.
More focus was also expected on topics such as: capacity building with regard to the delineation of the outer limit of the continental shelf, due to the highly complex and technical nature of Article 76 of UNCLOS; and means to overcome obstacles related to property rights and patents in the context of transfer of technology.
Finally, the format and meaning of the Co-Chairs’ summary of discussions limited the closing day’s deliberations. Prior to ICP-10, specific elements negotiated and agreed by consensus were forwarded to the UN General Assembly. This process changed last year when delegates feared that the Consultative Process was becoming a negotiating forum and wanted to avoid duplication of the UN General Assembly’s negotiations. But reactions to the new approach were mixed. For some delegates, a report that reflects five days of discussions does not advance the process, and one delegate expressed reservations about the future value of the ICP if this approach continues.
Even in the surprisingly pacific exchanges over ICP’s future work, there remained a schism over how the Consultative Process should proceed vis-à-vis other multilateral fora. The G-77/China took the position that ICP should avoid duplication and overlap with current negotiations and particular debates taking place in specialized fora. Yet, as one delegate noted, all issues are discussed in other venues.
This debate raises questions about ICP’s purpose since the UN General Assembly resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea play a role in the evolution of the law of the sea. For example, marine biodiversity is addressed within the Convention on Biological Diversity, which makes specific reference to UNCLOS linking the two in a complementary way on marine conservation. Restricting ICP from covering issues raised in other fora weakens each convention individually by neglecting integration opportunities and exacerbating fragmentation of international law.
Within the ICP the issue remains controversial, especially concerning climate change. Some delegates opine that the topic of climate change should be dealt with exclusively by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A bridge to this impasse, suggested by some delegates, would be to discuss the effects of climate change on oceans and their resources, for example ocean warming and acidification, and leaving governance to UNFCCC.
This aside, there seemed to be support for ICP-12 to examine progress on the implementation of the commitments on oceans made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. As some delegates said, this would strengthen the Consultative Process and contribute to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). They also noted that ICP is the lone ocean process that feeds into the UN General Assembly, and that not seizing this opportunity risks sinking the ocean agenda at Rio+20. In other words, as noted by one delegate, the Rio+20 topic could provide an umbrella under which all ocean-related topics could be discussed, including the impacts of climate change on oceans.
Delegates left the UN on Friday, processing what they’d learned about capacity-building programmes, challenges and opportunities, and having agreed on the first steps for improving the matching of capacity-building needs with existing programmes. While the calm and speedy ending to the meeting represented an accomplishment, it remains to be seen how disagreements over the topics and the process for their selection, as well as the renewal of the ICP mandate, will be addressed by the 65th session of the UN General Assembly. The selection of the right topic may rescue this process and remind both developed and developing countries that the future of the oceans is at stake and that, as one delegate noted, “all of us have the same goal: the protection of the world’s oceans.”
Third East Asian Seas Partnership Council Meeting: The Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) aims to build interagency, intersectoral, and intergovernmental partnerships for achieving the sustainable development of the Seas of East Asia. dates: 26-30 July 2010 location: Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, People’s Republic of China contact: Won-Tae Shin, Ph.D. phone: +63-2-9292992 fax: +63-2-9269712 email:email@example.com internet: http://www.pemsea.org/events/events/third-eas-partnership-council-meeting/view
Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole to Recommend a Course of Action to the General Assembly on the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, Including Socio-Economic Aspects: dates: 30 August to 3 September 2010 location: UN Headquarters in New York contact: the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea phone: +1-212-963-3962 fax: +1-212-963-5847 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.unga-regular-process.org/
International Conference on Oceans, Climate Change and Sustainable Development: Challenges to Oceans and Coastal Cities: This conference will include Pacem in Maribus XXXIII and Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the UNESCO/IOC. dates: 2-4 September 2010 location: Beijing, China contact: Yu Hongrong, International Oceans Institute Focal Point-Shanghai phone: +86-21-388-20765 fax: +86-21-588-53909 email:email@example.com internet: http://www.ioinst.org
1st World Seabird Conference: Seabirds: Linking the Global Oceans: This conference aims to put seabird management and conservation into a worldwide perspective. dates: 7-11 September 2010 location: Victoria, Canada internet: http://www.confmanager.com/main.cfm?cid=1813&nid=12669
2nd Marine Board Forum: Towards a European Network of Marine Observatories for Monitoring and Research: This forum will discuss critical gaps and opportunities for the long-term monitoring of Europe’s marine environment. dates: 16 September 2010 location: Brussels contact: Marine Board Secretariat phone: +33-0-3887-671000 fax: +33-0-3883-70532 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.esf.org/index.php?id=6834
North-East Atlantic Environment Summit: This is a ministerial meeting of the Commission of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR). dates: 20-24 September 2010 location: Bergen, Norway contact: OSPAR Commission phone: +44-0-20-7430-5200 fax: +44-0-20-7430-5225 email:email@example.com internet:http://www.ospar.org
Millennium Development Goals Summit: The UN General Assembly decided to convene this summit as a high-level plenary meeting on accelerating progress to achieve all the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, taking into account progress made through a review of successes and best practices. dates: 20-22 September 2010 location: UN Headquarters in New York internet: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/calendar.shtml
ICES Annual Science Conference: This meeting of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) will bring together scientists, practitioners and policy makers. dates: 20-24 September 2010 location: Nantes (Pays De La Loire), France contact: ICES Secretariat; Attn: Gorel Kjeldsen phone: +45-3- 38-67-00 fax: +45-33-93-42-15 email:ASCinfo@ices.dk internet: http://www.ices.dk/iceswork/asc/2010/
Global Conference on Aquaculture 2010: This conference is co-sponsored by the FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, the Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia and the Pacific, and the Department of Fisheries of the Government of Thailand. dates: 22-25 September 2010 location: Phuket, Thailand contact: Conference Secretariat phone: +66-2-561- 1728 fax: +66-2-561-1727 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.aqua-conference2010.org
MSI+5 High-Level Review: This is the five-year review of the Mauritius Strategy for the Implementation (MSI+5) of the Barbados Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. dates: 24-25 September 2010 location: UN Headquarters in New York contact: Hiroko Morita-Lou, SIDS Unit phone: +1-212-963-8813 fax: +1-212-963-4260 email:email@example.com internet: http://www.sidsnet.org/msi_5/
Fifth Session of the Sub-Committee on Aquaculture of the FAO Committee on Fisheries: dates: 27 September to 1 October 2010 location: Phuket, Thailand contact: Rohana Subasinghe, FAO phone: +39-06-570-56473 fax: +39-06-570-53020 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.fao.org/fishery/nems/38933/en
Oceans Day at Nagoya: This event will be held during the tenth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. dates: 23 October 2010 contact: Global Oceans Forum Secretariat phone: +1-302-831-8086 fax: +1-302-831-3668 email:email@example.com internet: http://www.globaloceans.org/
3rd Intergovernmental Review of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Pollution: This event will take place sometime in 2011 at a location to be determined. contact: UNEP/GPA Coordinator phone: +31-70-311-4460 fax: +31-70-345-6648 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.gpa.unep.org
Fifth International Marine Debris Conference: This event, co-organized by the UNEP and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will share strategies and best practices to assess, reduce and prevent the impacts of marine debris. dates: 20-25 March 2011 location: Honolulu, Hawaii contact: David Osborn, UNEP phone: +254-20-762-5721 fax: +254-20-762-4249 email: email@example.com or 5IMDConf@gmail.com internet: http://www.5imdc.org/
12th Meeting of the Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea: The dates for ICP-12 will be determined by the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly. dates: June 2011 location: UN Headquarters in New York contact: DOALOS phone: +1-212-963-3969 fax: +1-212-963-5847 email:firstname.lastname@example.org internet: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/consultative_process/consultative_process.htm