UN Working Group Meets to Discuss the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity

With a view to provide recommendations to the UN General Assembly, the eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group was convened today to discuss issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (ABNJ). This meeting was the second of the three meetings to discuss the scope, parameters and feasibility of a possible new international instrument.

During the opening session this morning, Co-Chair Ms. Lijnzaad delivered an opening remark to encourage the Working Group to move forward together in achieving an effective legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ, and reassured the necessity of a new international instrument. She mentioned the need to address legal, regulatory and implementation gaps such as addressing fragmentation in governance, and to develop a benefit-sharing regime for marine genetic resources.

ImageMember states and parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) were invited to consider the organization of the work of the meeting. Norway remained open to negotiate a new implementing agreement that can add value to the existing international legal framework, and recommended a needs-based approach to identify legal gaps in the present regime. Norway also emphasized clarity, predictability and confidence among the Working Group, and pointed out practical needs were of great concern in which feasibility is a product of scope and parameters.

The European Union supported a new agreement and called for other parties to have strong political will to achieve the goals of marine conservation. The new agreement should also specify duties of parties in terms of identifying a practical solution and implementation in order to strengthen interaction and coordination across regions and sectors. Mexico and Austria pointed out it is not necessary to establish a new structure, rather the new agreement should be fully integrated into the established Law of the Sea architecture and in full compliance with the existing regimes, while avoiding redundancy. Mexico also pointed out that the legal framework should be functionally well defined to ensure greater coordination and capacity building. Lastly, Trinidad and Tobago stressed the need to take into account a precautionary principle, and Austria stressed the need for ecosystem-based management in the new agreement.

 

Meeting Title: Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction
Speakers: Ms. Liesbeth Lijnzaad, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands; Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and UN Legal Counsel
Location: United Nations HQ, Conference Room 1, New York
Date: 16 June 2014
Written by WIT representative: Tracy Lau
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan

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