The 28th meeting of the Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was shorter than expected: it was held at the UN Headquarters in New York from 11 to 12 June 2018, while initially convened until 14 June.
Statement of the UN Legal Counsel
In his statement at the opening of the meeting, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel Mr. Serpa Soares underscored the critical role of the Convention in strengthening international peace and security and ensuring sustainable development of the oceans and seas, including with respect to target 14c of Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. He welcomed the accession by Benin and Saint Kitts and Nevis to the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the UNCLOS relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, as well as the ratification of the same Agreement by Vanuatu. He also highlighted the significance of the progess of the work of the intergovernmental conference, convened under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by the Assembly in resolution 69/292 on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Furthermore, he emphasized the significant workload of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) and encouraged States Parties to devote attention to the need to ensure full membership in the CLCS to ensure that soon the Commission will return to operate with 21 members.
The work of ITLOS
During the meeting, the President of ITLOS, Judge Jin-Hyun Paik, introduced the annual report for 2017 (SPLOS/317) and provided an overview of the activities of the Tribunal and the work carried out during its 43rd and 44th sessions. He reported that the seven judges elected at the 27th meeting of the Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS had begun their terms of office on 1 October 2017. Subsequently, on 2 October 2017, the judges had elected Judge Jin-Hyun Paik as President of the Tribunal and Judge David Joseph Attard as Vice -President, for a term of three years. On 4 October 2017, Judge Albert Hoffman was elected President of the Seabed Disputes Chamber.
The President mentiond the judgment in the Dispute Concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana/Côte d’Ivoire), noting that the Special Chamber had delimited the territorial sea, the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf, including the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, between the two parties. It had also addressed issues concerning the obligations set out in article 83, paragraph 3, of the Convention. He expressed the view that the judgment represented a significant contribution to jurisprudence on maritime delimitation, building on the decision of the Tribunal in the Dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal (Bangladesh/Myanmar), and highlighted the flexibility of the procedures of the Tribunal in resolving disputes concerning the law of the sea. The President also informed the Meeting that, further to the judgment of the Tribunal on the objections to jurisdiction and admissibility raised by Italy, the merits phase of the M/V “Norstar” Case (Panama v. Italy) had resumed and the parties had submitted written proceedings, and that public hearings were expected to be held in September 2018.
The meeting also heard inter alia reports on the activities of the International Seabed Authority and the CLCS, including on the status of the two existing trust funds administered by the Secretariat in relation to the CLCS.
The full report of the 28th meeting is available as Doc. SPLOS/324.