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United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

 

​​The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was adopted in 1982. It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. It embodies in one instrument traditional rules for the uses of the oceans and at the same time introduces new legal concepts and regimes and addresses new concerns. The Convention also provides the framework for further development of specific areas of the law of the sea.

The Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations serves as the secretariat of the Convention on the Law of the Sea and provides information, advice and assistance to States with a view to providing a better understanding of the Convention and the related Agreements, their wider acceptance, uniform and consistent application and effective implementation.  The Division monitors all developments relating to the Convention, the law of the sea and ocean affairs and reports annually to the General Assembly of the United Nations on those developments. It also assists the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea in reviewing such developments.

 

Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ)

The United Nations General Assembly decided, in 2015, to develop an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (UNGA resolution 69/292).

At its seventy-second session in 2017, the United Nations General Assembly, through resolution 72/249, decided to convene an intergovernmental conference (IGC), with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible. To that end, the General Assembly also decided that the conference shall initially meet for four sessions, of a duration of 10 working days each, with the first session taking place from 4 to 17 September 2018, the second and third sessions taking place in 2019, and the fourth session taking place in the first half of 2020.

The first session of the Intergovernmental Conference was convened from 4 to 17 September 2018 and the second session from 25 March to 5 April 2019, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Ms. Rena Lee of Singapore was elected as President of the IGC.

In accordance with resolution 72/249, the Conference addressed the topics identified in a package agreed in 2011, namely:

.1         the conservation and sustainable use of marine BBNJ;

.2         marine genetic resources, including questions on benefit-sharing (MGR);

.3         Area Based Management Tools (ABMT), including marine protected areas;

.4         environmental impact assessments (EIA); and

.5         capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology (CB&TMT).

The agenda, the programme of work for the meeting as well as other working documents for the meeting are available on the website of the Conference at: www.un.org/bbnj.

The IMO Secretariat represented by staff members from the Marine Environment Division and Legal Affairs and External Relations Division attends the Conference and takes an active part in the negotiations, with the main goal to ensure that IMO will play an important role in the implementation of the BBNJ instrument and that the new instrument will not negatively impact IMO's mandate and framework.

IMO actively cooperates with the UN, in particular with DOALOS and ISA and with other specialized agencies, like FAO, IOC of UNESCO and ILO to coordinate the position.

An information session on BBNJ was organized by the Secretary-General Mr Kitack Lim on 21 June 2019 at the IMO Headquarter. The session was attended by Ms Rena Lee. A video message was also delivered by Mr Michael Lodge – the Secretary-General of ISA. Presentations were delivered by IMO staff members. The industry, represented by the ICS, also had an opportunity to speak. The representatives of more than 50 Members States were present at the session.

Click for presentation delivered by the IMO Secretariat.