Update: Day Five – Member Interventions

Date: 23rd August 2013

In plenary on the afternoon of the final day, NGOs made interventions raising concern about the exclusion of NGOs from the BBNJ meeting and asked for assurances that the process will continue in an open and transparent manner.  The interventions made on behalf of the High Seas Alliance and its members can be seen below.

Pew, High Seas Alliance and Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Intervention 23 August 2013 BBNJ

Thank you Co-Chairs and good afternoon delegates.

The intervention is being given on behalf of Pew and the High Seas Alliance and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition.

I will be brief.  We strongly support the recent intervention by WWF, NRDC, Pew and Greenpeace on transparency. The procedure this week was a real low in the practice of transparency by the United Nations. We strongly urge the procedure to be opened up and made fully transparent by the time of the next meeting. There is no question: this text including such non-controversial matters as timelines, should have been negotiated in the open, allowing interventions by intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations.

Turning to the text just given to us and future process, we welcome the agreement to move forward, and urge that the timeline and meetings be compressed as much as possible, and certainly ending by September 2014. This is critical.

We appreciate that this will be demanding for some States, but we as NGOs will work with delegations and this group on this important exercise, including the discussions on scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument under UNCLOS.

There will be a lot of work on those matters and civil society stands as partners to move forward quickly, effectively and constructively to protect and advance the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

World Wide Fund For Nature intervention, 23 August

Co-chairs: Thank you for this opportunity to contribute.

Delegates: I am Alistair Graham with the World Wide Fund for Nature. As well as WWF, I am speaking on behalf of: the Natural Resource Defense Fund; Greenpeace; Pew; the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition; the High Seas Alliance – and the Iceland Nature Conservation Association.

We would like to express our grave concern about the closure of the informal session of the working group to both NGO and IGO observers.

Rio+20 called for institutions at all levels that are effective, transparent, accountable and democratic. The Rio Declaration, which was endorsed by every country represented in this room, called on countries to enhance the participation and effective engagement of civil society and other relevant stakeholders in international fora.

This meeting is one of great importance and real interest to the public, and to our organizations, which represent tens of millions of people around the world. The importance we attach to this process is reflected in our consistent participation in UN discussions on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction since 2003, and the years of work we have devoted to informing and, we hope, enhancing the discussion.

We have brought scientists, international legal experts, and policy experts to the UN to help find positive ways forward.  We have helped build political support for action in capitols around the world. And while we do not always agree with everything said in this room, we have approached these meetings with professionalism that is grounded in a profound respect for the work you do, and for the work of this institution.

We understand that there are times when countries need to talk privately, on highly sensitive issues, and we respect your need to be able to talk frankly, in private, when exceptional circumstances warrant it.  But the nature of the discussions, here, over the last several days does not meet that standard – not by a long shot.

The BBNJ process arose, at least in part, from the expression of profound concern by civil society, and by scientists, that the oceans beyond national jurisdiction are being managed poorly, putting at risk an area covering nearly half the planet.

We were here at the beginning of this process, and we have been here at every step of the way since then.  We very much want to contribute to crafting successful solutions. But we can’t do that if we are excluded from the exchange of views between delegations as a critical part of the hard discussions that will inevitably take place as scope, parameters and feasibility are, hopefully, sorted out in the year ahead.

We respectfully submit that all meetings in this process should be open, unless genuinely exceptional circumstances warrant otherwise – and then closed only after a proper discussion, in open session, of the justification for any closure – and there is either a consensus, or a recorded vote, to close them.

Thank you co-chairs and delegates.

Cover photo by Sindre Bøyum on Unsplash

Posted on Categories HSA Member Activities UN Negotiations