High Seas Alliance Advises States on High Seas at UN BBNJ Meeting on Day 2

Date: 3rd April 2014

On the second day of the UN BBNJ meeting members of the High Seas Alliance joined in discussions with State delegates through interventions on scope and parameters for a high seas biodiversity implementing agreement.

IUCN intervention presented by Kristina Gjerde, Senior High Seas Advisor

IUCN intervention on scope

IUCN aligns itself with the view of Mexico, New Zealand and India with respect to the importance of the 2011 package deal in defining the scope of the possible new agreement under UNCLOS.

Many challenges to cooperation and coordination at the regional and sectoral level remain. These include:

  • Lack of common principles
  • Limited substantive and geographic mandates

These and other challenges are identified in the IUCN paper number 2 on cooperation and coordination.
IUCN would also like to recall Rio+20 decision which was an agreement to address on an urgent basis the issue of conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and to apply ecosystem and precautionary approaches.

Some mechanism to improve cooperation and coordination are offered in IUCN’s paper that will be discussed on Thursday’s side event. These include:

  • Common governance principles so that all institutions and states are singing from the same time sheet
  • With respect to expansion of existing mandates, there may be no need to change these mandates directly. Rather, Contracting Parties could specifically commit to cooperate to achieve the objectives of a new instrument, including through their participation in, and in cooperation with, competent international organizations such as the ISA, the International Maritime Organization, RFMOs and RSCs and through promotion of institutional reform and consistency with the governance principles as necessary to achieve the purposes of the instrument.

Thank you Madame Co-Chair

IUCN Statement on Parameters

With regard to parameters, IUCN would like to note that during the process established for the Arms Trade Treaty, States were similarly requested to consider ‘principles, guidelines and parameters that should govern the international transfer of conventional arms” The Charter of the United Nations, international human rights law, and international humanitarian law were all put forward as relevant treaty principles. Operational mechanisms included information-sharing and exchange, reporting mechanisms, and international cooperation and assistance.

In the ABNJ context, the term parameters could therefore be interpreted as covering:

  • General international legal, conservation and governance principles (as New Zealand, Ecuador, the EU, Jamaica, Barbados and many others have identified)
  • Operational mechanisms

The key operational mechanisms for implementation of a future international instrument for ABNJ would need to be developed for the issues identified in resolution 66/231. These could include

  • Area-based management tools (ABMT), including criteria, procedures and guidelines for MPAs and coherent and connected representative systems of MPAs.
  • Criteria and guidelines for EIAs and strategic environmental assessments.
  • Benefit-sharing, including mechanisms to facilitate access and international collaboration and cooperation, and provisions for both monetary and non-monetary benefit sharing.
  • Mechanisms for capacity-building and the facilitation of marine scientific research, technology transfer and funding.

Operational measures could also include institutional mechanisms to enhance cooperation, coordination and coherency such as a conference of parties, a secretariat, a science body, compliance review mechanisms and a funding system.  I would just note that the IUCN Policy Briefs, now available on the DOALOS website under “other relevant information” for this meeting.

As a final note, IUCN would just like to reiterate was pointed out by Dr. Dire Tladi during today’s side event. While governments may themselves undertake to conduct EIAs or establish MPAs on a unilateral or regional basis beyond national jurisdiction, in the context of the global ocean, self-regulation by a few would not secure the goal of a healthy, productive and resilient ocean adopted by world leaders at Rio+20 which defines the Ocean we want.

The global ocean is interconnected and what happens in one part affects us all.  That connectivity cannot be ensured through purely regional approaches or approaches dealing only with the seabed or water column.

Cover photo by Kolar.io on Unsplash

Posted on Categories HSA in the News UN Negotiations