NEW YORK, 20 June (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — The twenty-ninth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was held at Headquarters from 17 to 19 June 2019. For background information, see Press Release SEA/2104.
The Meeting elected by acclamation Michael Imran Kanu (Sierra Leone) as President of the twenty-ninth Meeting of States Parties and Anneli Leega Piiskop (Estonia), Sidney Kemble (Netherlands), Luke Tang (Singapore) and Carlos Mota (Uruguay) as Vice-Presidents.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres attended the meeting in the morning of 17 June and delivered remarks in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. Recognizing that the Convention provides the “comprehensive framework for the peaceful, cooperative and sustainable use of seas, oceans and their resources”, the Secretary-General appealed “to all States parties to approach the task of the Convention’s full implementation with renewed commitment and vigour”.
Many delegations also affirmed the importance of the Convention as the “constitution for the oceans”, in providing the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out. Delegations highlighted the delicate balance in the Convention between the freedoms, rights and obligations, as well as the interests, of States. Many delegations expressed concern over the multiple and cumulative threats faced by the oceans and, in this context, underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the Convention, which is also critical for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 14.
In keeping with its traditional agenda, the Meeting of States Parties took note of the annual report of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for 2018, as well as the information reported by the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority and the Chairperson of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, on the activities of these bodies since the twenty-eighth Meeting in June 2018. In its consideration of administrative and budgetary matters of the Tribunal, the Meeting took note of the report of the external auditor for the financial period 2017–2018 and the report on budgetary matters for the financial period 2017–2018. It also decided to extend the nominations of Indonesia as member of the staff pension committee and Canada as alternate member of the staff pension committee of the Tribunal for a three-year term of office starting on 1 January 2020 (document SPLOS/29/8).
The Meeting appointed Mr. Kemble and María Alejandrina Sande (Uruguay) as co-coordinators of the Open-Ended Working Group on the Conditions of Service of Members of the Commission, following the resignations of Anastasia Strati (Greece) and James Waweru (Kenya). The Open-Ended Working Group continued its consideration of issues related to the conditions of service of the members of the Commission, in particular medical insurance coverage. The Meeting endorsed proposals by the Open-Ended Working Group to, inter alia, continue to consider these issues intersessionally, while requesting the Secretariat to survey information concerning medical insurance arrangements for the current Commission members and logistical arrangements provided to them by their respective nominating States; and to prepare a comprehensive study setting out possible options to address the conditions of service of Commission members for consideration at the thirtieth Meeting of States Parties in 2020.
The Meeting also agreed in this regard to propose an amendment to the Terms of Reference of the Voluntary Trust Fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of Commission members from developing States in its meetings during the first round of negotiations on the draft resolution of the General Assembly on oceans and the Law of the Sea to allow for the possibility of reimbursement for the costs of joining the United Nations Headquarters medical insurance scheme.
In considering the issue of a vacancy in the Commission, upon the request of the Group of Eastern European States, the Meeting decided to provide it additional time to identify possible candidates to be nominated, as it had decided during the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth Meetings in 2017 and 2018.
The meeting considered, under article 319 of the Convention, the reports of the Secretary-General for the information of States parties on issues of a general nature, relevant to States parties, which have arisen with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (documents A/73/368 and A/74/70).
The deliberations under this agenda item covered a wide range of issues, including the role of the Convention in maintaining international peace and security, reinforcing friendly relations among States and ensuring the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources; the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women in all ocean-related sectors; marine scientific research; protection of the marine environment; migration by sea; maritime security and safety, including piracy and other crimes at sea; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; national and regional initiatives addressing challenges faced in maritime zones; and the need for capacity-building, transfer of marine technology and cross-sectoral cooperation and coordination. Appreciation was expressed for the important work of the three bodies established under the Convention.
Delegations also welcomed the progress made in the previous two sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015 on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction; the recent meeting of the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea on "Ocean Science and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development”; and the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects.
The meeting also addressed a number of other matters. A more detailed account of the proceedings of the twenty-ninth Meeting of States Parties will be included in the report of the meeting, to be issued in due course as document SPLOS/29/9.
The Convention, which entered into force on 16 November 1994, governs all aspects of ocean space and maritime issues, from navigational rights, maritime limits and marine scientific research to resource management, marine environment protection and dispute settlement.
For further information on the Meeting, including its documents, please see the website of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs at: www.un.org/Depts/los/meeting_states_parties/twentyninthmeetingstatesparties.htm.