Ocean Action Hub

Implementing International Law as reflected in UNCLOS - Closed

Welcome to the online discussion on enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The discussion is taking place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of SDG target 14.c. The discussion runs from 3 - 23 April 2017. More....

To participate, please post your response to the discussion questions below.

Implementing International Law as Reflected in UNCLOS - Question 1

What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region in achieving Target 14.c, aimed at enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS?

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Mathew Markides's picture

Mathew Markides said:

A lack of capacity to both implement and enforce national laws in accordance with UNCLOS has been an issue that FISH-i Africa members have been working to address. However, an important issue that has been emerging throughout this process is the failure of flag States to comply with their responsibilities as set forth in UNCLOS.
This has been the failing point of a number of cases and has seen beneficial owners of illegal fishing vessels go unpunished. As a result the high economic rewards of illegal fishing are reaped despite the vessel being caught. This mass failing can be explained by a number of factors, ranging from corruption to an honest inability/lack of capacity.
A recurring issue is the inability to take action as a flag State, regardless of intentions to do so. This is not to say that the flag State is incapable, rather the options open to the flag State are limited, perhaps because they have limited links to the owners, who have no assets or real link to the flag State. This draws attention to the lack of requirements or criteria set out by a country to flag a vessel and the lack of foresight to consider how they would enforce sanctions if required.

Omoyemen Lucia Odigie- Emmanuel's picture

Omoyemen Lucia ... said:

-Legal provisions which provides that international laws need to be domesticated before implementation in Nigeria.

-Obsolete National Legislation and Absence of a National Action Plan to be developed needed to implement International Laws at national and local level.

-There is still a lot to be done in terms of setting the pace for proper legal, regulatory, institutional and financial framework and stakeholder engagement in the process.

-Inability to articulate the interlinkages between international laws protecting the oceans, seas and human rights laws.

-Abscence of a gender perspective

The effect of the above is evident in:

-ocean and marine degradation and alteration of flora, fauna and ocean ecosystem.

-destruction of aquatic life

-thermal pollution resulting in paired growth and reproduction of aquatic species

-obstruction of their natural locomotive pattern

-eutrophication' (over fertilization)

-Depletion of dissolved oxygen in water resulting in massive fish kills, contaminating seafood with toxins and altering ecosystems.

-Damage to the exoteric values of beaches resulting in closure of recreation beaches and oceans and loss of economic resources

-Deadly Effects on health of marine animals

-Destruction of oceans and marines through oil spills

David SIMMONS's picture

David SIMMONS said:

One of the outstanding features of UNCLOS was the creation of the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) which sought to assign to Coastal States, sovereign rights for “exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living” in that zone; and for the “economic exploitation and exploration of the zone”. In that regard, the Convention has explicitly delineated regimes for the exploration, exploitation and management of various living resources (e.g., fisheries) and non-living resources (hydrocarbon), some of the more commonly exploited living and non-living resources found in the oceans.

Among the many direct and indirect economic resources and services provided by the oceans are fisheries, oil and gas, shipping and transportation, as well as ecosystem support services. In the Caribbean, apart from fishing, and exploration for fossil fuel, the most recognisable use of waters of the EEZ is as a source of recreation for cruise tourism. However, unlike fisheries and oil and gas exploration, over which the coastal state has sovereign rights to explore, exploit and manage, for their own economic benefit, cruise tourism is not similarly prescribed. In fact, the Convention is totally silent on this issue of cruise tourism, giving rise to questions as to whether it is an economic activity, and if so, should the management of cruise tourism in the EEZ be the responsibility of coastal states in whose waters cruise tourism takes place?

Not only is the Caribbean heavily dependent on tourism, but it is also the most tourism‐dependent region in the world and a key generator of foreign exchange and employment as well as a contributor to sustainable development. The 2015 World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report noted that of the twelve regions of the world for which data was collected by the WTTC, the Caribbean ranked first in terms of tourism’s contribution to GDP (14.6%), employment (13%), total capital investment (12.2%), and total exports (17.8%); third in terms of direct contribution to GDP (4.0%), and sixth in terms of contribution to direct employment (WTTC 2015).

Given the high dependence on cruise tourism by several Caribbean States, and given the huge amounts of revenues generated by that industry, very little of which reaches or remains in the coastal State, is this an opportunity for the international community, particularly the upcoming Oceans Conference (June 2017), to examine UNCLOS, and consider whether there is a need for the Convention to provide some clearer definition of what constitutes an economic activity, and establishing the appropriate mechanisms for governing the use of ocean space as it relates to the use of shared resources?

Rudolf H Dorah's picture

Rudolf H Dorah said:

As clearly highlighted by Alice, for PICs like Solomon Islands the critical element in enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources is COOPERATION. Our well developed regional approach to tuna development, management and conservation for example is serving our nations well today due to the inherent Cooperative mechanism and infrastructure in place today. In order to respond effetcively to these challenges, which are TRANSBOUNDARY in nature, the responsibility of tuna devemopment, management and conservation is therefore divided among various regional organisations and member states can then collaborate and cooperate at the regional level to tackle challenges of IUU fishing, new tuna access regime for Foreign Registered Fishing Vessels etc which are best managed at the regional level. At the moment, at the regionalo level the Pacific FFA members are quite effective in developing and managing our tuna resources. The Key lesson from the regional set up is Shared Costs and Shared Responsibility to meet regional challenges. 

Our biggest challange however is at the local country level. At the rural level, 80% of rural artisanal fisheries are being operated under a mixture of tradtional,customary, and legal frameworks and to this day our fisheries laws does not yet cohesively tailored to meet this reality. The approach to fisheries assumes that only the ministry of fisheries is responsible for managing tuna and other fisheries but is not concerned about the overall ocean environment. There is an-going infighting between the ministry of fisheries and ministry of envronment for for that matter which renders weak local implementation. I strongly believe that without a framework that includes the customary and tradtional fisheries tenure systems into mainstream legal policy frameworks it will never be effective in managing and conserving the ocean and fisheries resources from the local and rural levels. 

The UNCLOS whilst boasted as the "constitution of the oceans" it must be understood it is more to do with Man's actions towards the ocean and its resources. For that matter, greater responsibilty rests on national govts and multinational fishing companies who are the primary beneficiaries on the harvets of the most valuable fish stocks. The UNCLOS thus place a greater responsibility on these actors to take more active roles in supporting the management of fish stocks with both the govt and other organisations working in those regions. To prove this point, if wewould  shut down tuna fisheries for only 6 months world over who will be affected most are not the 80% rural populations but the big businesses that depends on them for profits and govt for taxes. For these reasons UNCLOS calls on all member states to cooperate and support LDCs in enhancing their technical capacities in fullfilling their UNCLOS mandates. 

Navigating The Future F4D SDG14's picture

Navigating The ... said:

Lack of good data for measuring progress and implementation and that means disaggregated data as far as possible

Target number:

14.c

Indicator Number and

Name:

14.c.1 Number of countries making progress in ratifying, accepting

and implementing through legal, policy and institutional frameworks, ocean

-

related instruments that

implement international law, as reflected in the United Nation Convention on the La

w of the Sea, for

the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources

Agency:

IMO

https://stg-uneplive.unep.org/media/docs/projects/SDG_Indicators_UNEP_as...

https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/files/metadata-compilation/Metadata-Goal-14.pdf

Navigating The Future F4D SDG14's picture

Navigating The ... said:

Lack of good data for measuring progress and implementation and that means disaggeregated data in as far as possible not  as a bypass proxy 14.c.1 Number of countries making progress in may lead to tautologies  howver information described above already exist at IMO.

https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/files/meetings/iaeg-sdgs-meeting-04/Tier%20I...

https://stg-uneplive.unep.org/media/docs/projects/SDG_Indicators_UNEP_as...

https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/files/metadata-compilation/Metadata-Goal-14.pdf

Alice Hicuburundi's picture

Alice Hicuburundi said:

“Welcome to the online forum on enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (SDG14.c) in advance of The Ocean Conference.

We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and looking forward to hearing from you. In particular, we are interested in receiving contributions about the challenges relating to the implementation of UNCLOS and other instruments relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, and your views on how they could be addressed.

Let us start the discussion by stressing the importance of conserving and sustainably using oceans and seas and their resources and of protecting marine biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.  In that regard, effective implementation of international law as reflected in UNCLOS is key.

Together with its implementing agreements UNCLOS provides the legal framework within which all activities on the oceans and seas must be carried out. UNCLOS is considered to be the “constitution for the oceans”.  It recognizes that all problems concerning oceans are closely inter-related and should be dealt with in a cohesive and holistic manner. Its provisions integrate the three pillars of sustainable development: the environmental, social and economic.  The Convention thus provides a common basis for integrated and holistic global action. In addition to UNCLOS and its implementing agreements, the international legal framework for oceans includes a number of other international instruments at the global and regional levels relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and their resources.  Together, these instruments provide an integrated and adaptive framework to address on-going and emerging issues, including challenges related to the impacts of climate change on oceans.

This international framework contains important obligations for States which relate, inter alia, to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and its resources, protection and preservation of the marine environment, marine scientific research and the safety and security of persons at sea. If fully and effectively implemented, it would contribute substantially to the achievement of all of the targets of Goal 14, and more broadly to sustainable development, global stability and prosperity for present and future generations.  

However, the full and effective implementation of this legal framework presents challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve Goal 14 and sustainable development. Many steps can be taken at the global, regional and local levels to promote such implementation, including awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing, increasing capacity-building and technical assistance, deepening scientific knowledge of the oceans, developing sustainable financing mechanisms to support implementation, promoting cooperation and coordination at all levels, and mainstreaming oceans into the broader development agenda.

For example addressing capacity development needs is an essential building block of successful sustainable development, to ensure that States, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States as well as African coastal States, are able to fully implement UNCLOS and related instruments and benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, as well as participate fully in global and regional forums on ocean affairs and the law of the sea. 

Considering the complexity of effective implementation of the existing legal framework in a pluri-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and integrated manner, partnerships to address issues relating to capacity, such as the United Nations - The Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship Programme:  Human Resources Development and Advancement of the Legal Order of the World's Oceans have proved invaluable. 

What more could and should be done?  What role can you play?

We look forward to a useful discussion.”

Implementing International Law as Reflected in UNCLOS - Question 2

What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.c?

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Rowan Braybrook's picture

Rowan Braybrook said:

Implementing SDG 14 at national level fundamentally relies on clearly delineated maritime boundaries so that countries can have certainty that their efforts are effective and beneficial to their national domain. To achieve SDG 14 overall, and in particular 14.c, the Call for Action should incorporate language addressing the risk of loss of maritime jurisdiction due to sea level rise from climate change. Rising seas from climate change threaten to shift the baselines from which Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and seabed claims are measured, which, by strict interpretation, could reduce the extent of a country’s maritime domain, with major economic and political consequences.

UNCLOS was designed and agreed at a time when humanity was not fully cognizant of climate change and its impact on oceans, but the delineation and respect for national boundaries and maritime jurisdiction is important to the security and economic well-being of many nations. The Call for Action should explicitly address this issue by calling for an UNGA resolution to clarify that no nation is at risk of loss of maritime jurisdiction due to sea level rise from climate change.

Mathew Markides's picture

Mathew Markides said:

In addition to promoting the implementation of port State measures, pressure should be increased on flag States to ensure that firstly they do not find themselves in the position described above and secondly that they can and do take effective action which prevent any profit coming from the activities in question.
This last point is vital as it is profit which drives illegal fishing. In the same way as the fine for not purchasing a train ticket is much greater than the cost of the ticket, the cost of being caught fishing illegally must be greater than the profits being made – a true deterrent. Therefore ensuring that the penalty is greater than the value of the catch is vital.
Pressure to implement such systems should also be placed on coastal and port States. It is important that all these categories of State, implement such measures as this will tighten the net and close loopholes.
An important issue to be considered is capacity and in many cases assistance will need to be provided. This should form part of any future actions as without the required capacity, States may fail to implement such changes and enforce them.

Robin Mahon's picture

Robin Mahon said:

The ocean governance web needs a spider, or several spiders

I think that we need to address the entire set of ocean related multilateral agreements as an interconnected whole - that’s where the spiders come in. This perspective was developed by the GEF Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme (TWAP) Ocean Governance Assessment which identified a set of global clusters of arrangements (agreements plus their implementing institutions) around major ocean governance and related conventions as well as a set of regional clusters of arrangements comprising indigenous arrangements as well as regional bodies of UN organisations. To these clusters of arrangements can be added supporting NGOs at both global and regional levels.

Think of a suite of global networks of arrangements and several regional networks of arrangements as described above, where (a) each network needs its own internal coordination and (b) the entire network of networks also needs overall coordination. Each of the global networks is usually coordinated by a UN agency or agreement secretariat. But, there is not much coordination between them. UN Oceans is supposed to do this, but is not up to the task. At the regional level most networks are lacking any conspicuous coordination mechanism. Some exceptions are the Pacific Islands Region, Antarctica and the Arctic. A few other regions have incipient mechanisms. There are lessons to be shared. The upshot of all this is the fragmentation of implementation at both global and regional levels that we so often hear about.

Addressing this should be a crosscutting focus of implementation for SDG14, but as the title indicates this network of networks needs explicit building and nurturing - the entire web needs a spider whose job it is to keep it connected and functional. Similarly, all the regional networks (clusters) need spiders of their own which interact with each other and the global spider.

Omoyemen Lucia Odigie- Emmanuel's picture

Omoyemen Lucia ... said:

-Ensure  enactment of local legislature, national policies and action plans needed for its implementation.

-That the human rights and gender interlinkages be recognized and articulated in action by reading  in paragraph 3 of the preamble to agenda 2030 which says that “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental”; and paras 3, 8, 10, 19, 20, 29, 35 of the Declaration be integrated into interpretation and implementation of Goal 14.

-Strengthen capacity of both national and regional institutions including communities and other stakeholders.

-Support our health of the ocean campaign

Omoyemen Lucia Odigie- Emmanuel's picture

Omoyemen Lucia ... said:

Achieving human rights, gender equality, climate justice and sustainable development for majority of Nigerian’s especially those in the Niger Delta is tied to the sustainable use and management of Oceans, seas and marine resources. For many, live, security of livelihood and more is tied to Oceans, seas and marine resources. Ensuring the health of Oceans, seas and marine is as important as ensuring of children, women, youths and men that depend on them for live survival. It is more so important that the nexus and interlinkages to goal 5 and human rights objective be recognized  and the several human rights abuses that occur on oceans, seas and marine environment be not swept under.

It is therefore imperative to enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources and other related conventions and protocols that will promote oceans health.

In Nigeria, although on 7th of March, there was a Consultative Meeting on Draft Additional protocols to the Abidjan Convention as a way of fine-tuning the additional instruments of intervention which will enable National Action Plans to be developed and implemented at the country level, there is still a lot to be done in terms of setting the pace for proper legal, regulatory, institutional and financial framework and stakeholder engagement in the process. We also need to remember that parties to the Convention and the Abidjan Convention rightly articulated that irrespective of the Abidjan Convention, It would be necessary to domesticate and nationally implement existing laws related to preservation of the oceans and seas.

We therefore recommend that, ocean action includes:

-Ensure that the United Nations Convention on the Law of the sea regulates the sustainable use and management of oceans and oceans resources through enactment of local legislature, national policies and action plans needed for its implementation.

-That the human rights and gender interlinkages be recognized and articulated in action by reading  in paragraph 3 of the preamble to agenda 2030 which says that “The 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets which we are announcing today demonstrate the scale and ambition of this new universal Agenda. They seek to build on the Millennium Development Goals and complete what these did not achieve. They seek to realize the human rights of all and to achieve gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls. They are integrated and indivisible and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental”; and paras 3, 8, 10, 19, 20, 29, 35 of the Declaration be integrated into interpretation and implementation of Goal 14.

-Strengthen capacity of both national and regional institutions including communities and other stakeholders.

Cedric Ryngaert's picture

Cedric Ryngaert said:

UNCLOS provides a window for states to contribute towards the development of legal protection for the oceans environment by means of port entry conditions on the prevention, reduction and control of pollution (Article 211(3)). Substantively however, this treaty also recognises the general right to impose entry conditions which may be used for promoting other values (Article 25(2)). We have already witnessed this at the global level with the adoption and entry into force of an agreement that makes great use of port entry conditions and denial; the 2009 Port State Measures Agreement to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate, IUU Fishing.

Citizens of port states may call upon their respective governments to take action and establish similar or even more extensive entry requirements, thereby contributing to the enhancement of the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources. Such efforts could focus on the various sources of pollution not considered in 1982, as well as upon other topics such as IUU fishing or even labour standards. As scholars involved in a project devoted to the study of unilateral jurisdiction, we are convinced that a global call for action can also evolve from state practice which enhances certain features of the existing international legal instruments, such as within UNCLOS. In particular, the development of port state jurisdiction and port state obligations under international law is proving to be a possible means to help achieve Target 14.c. 

It is therefore valuable to strengthen the substantive legal standards of ocean protection using the existing avenues. In the short term, this will protect the vulnerable ocean ecosystems from irreversible harm. In the longer term, it is to be hoped that assertive action will trigger dialogue between states, which may ultimately catalyse the development of further international standards aimed at realizing SDGs.

Prof. Cedric Ryngaert, Nelson F. Coelho, Natalie Dobson, Arron N. Honniball (UNIJURIS project Utrecht University, https://unijuris.sites.uu.nl/)

Rudolf H Dorah's picture

Rudolf H Dorah said:

I realised there are alot of people with expertise in ocean management on this forum so I best give them the chance to respond on the best ways to conserve the ocean and resources, I just wanted to share a thought on the idea that maybe at the UN level, countries to agree on a legal framework for INTEGRATED NATIOAL OCEANS POLICIES that would lead to individual member states to adopt and vary it according to their natioal requirements. I must say that for some countries only if the UN drives it only then they feel obliged to implement it, so I feel in this matter it is best the UN drives it and allow the instrument to be part of addressing Target 14.C   

Navigating The Future F4D SDG14's picture

Navigating The ... said:

Back 2 Basics

Costal states UNCLOS  responsibility

14.1.1 Index of Coastal Eutrophication (ICEP) and Floating Plastic debris Density.

14.2.1 Proportion of national Exclusive Economic Zones managed using ecosystem

-based

approaches.

14.5.1 Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas

.

Alice Hicuburundi's picture

Alice Hicuburundi said:

“Welcome to the online forum on enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (SDG14.c) in advance of The Ocean Conference.

We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and looking forward to hearing from you. In particular, we are interested in receiving contributions about the challenges relating to the implementation of UNCLOS and other instruments relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, and your views on how they could be addressed.

Let us start the discussion by stressing the importance of conserving and sustainably using oceans and seas and their resources and of protecting marine biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.  In that regard, effective implementation of international law as reflected in UNCLOS is key.

Together with its implementing agreements UNCLOS provides the legal framework within which all activities on the oceans and seas must be carried out. UNCLOS is considered to be the “constitution for the oceans”.  It recognizes that all problems concerning oceans are closely inter-related and should be dealt with in a cohesive and holistic manner. Its provisions integrate the three pillars of sustainable development: the environmental, social and economic.  The Convention thus provides a common basis for integrated and holistic global action. In addition to UNCLOS and its implementing agreements, the international legal framework for oceans includes a number of other international instruments at the global and regional levels relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and their resources.  Together, these instruments provide an integrated and adaptive framework to address on-going and emerging issues, including challenges related to the impacts of climate change on oceans.

This international framework contains important obligations for States which relate, inter alia, to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and its resources, protection and preservation of the marine environment, marine scientific research and the safety and security of persons at sea. If fully and effectively implemented, it would contribute substantially to the achievement of all of the targets of Goal 14, and more broadly to sustainable development, global stability and prosperity for present and future generations. 

However, the full and effective implementation of this legal framework presents challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve Goal 14 and sustainable development. Many steps can be taken at the global, regional and local levels to promote such implementation, including awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing, increasing capacity-building and technical assistance, deepening scientific knowledge of the oceans, developing sustainable financing mechanisms to support implementation, promoting cooperation and coordination at all levels, and mainstreaming oceans into the broader development agenda.

For example addressing capacity development needs is an essential building block of successful sustainable development, to ensure that States, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States as well as African coastal States, are able to fully implement UNCLOS and related instruments and benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, as well as participate fully in global and regional forums on ocean affairs and the law of the sea. 

Considering the complexity of effective implementation of the existing legal framework in a pluri-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and integrated manner, partnerships to address issues relating to capacity, such as the United Nations - The Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship Programme:  Human Resources Development and Advancement of the Legal Order of the World's Oceans have proved invaluable. 

What more could and should be done?  What role can you play?

We look forward to a useful discussion.”

Implementing International Law as Reflected in UNCLOS - Question 3

Please share any innovative partnerships aimed at achieving Target 14.c - existing or proposed - that you are aware of or involved in that can advance effective actions from local to global levels.

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Rudolf H Dorah's picture

Rudolf H Dorah said:

One of the innovative partnership that our Pacific Farm Group is currently involved in is with World Bank financing RDPII financing of coconut value-chain partnerships for sustainable development in the Solomon Islands coconut industry. This is a new approach based on the premises that the industry can only be sustainable if the value chain is strenghtened. The partnership allows the lead partners ( private entities) and its small holder rural based partners to enter into an agreement with the national government through the ministry of Agriculture giving responsibility and support of financing to add-value to the value chain. The govt holds the partners responsible and the partners holds each other responsible and together all ensures that the industry keeps each party responsible at all levels. The partnership ensures that there are Key Mile Stone Tragets are met including genda balance, environmental conservation, support to farmers, etc etc allowing the value chain to drive the development of the sector. 

Alice Hicuburundi's picture

Alice Hicuburundi said:

“Welcome to the online forum on enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (SDG14.c) in advance of The Ocean Conference.

We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and looking forward to hearing from you. In particular, we are interested in receiving contributions about the challenges relating to the implementation of UNCLOS and other instruments relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources, and your views on how they could be addressed.

Let us start the discussion by stressing the importance of conserving and sustainably using oceans and seas and their resources and of protecting marine biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.  In that regard, effective implementation of international law as reflected in UNCLOS is key.

Together with its implementing agreements UNCLOS provides the legal framework within which all activities on the oceans and seas must be carried out. UNCLOS is considered to be the “constitution for the oceans”.  It recognizes that all problems concerning oceans are closely inter-related and should be dealt with in a cohesive and holistic manner. Its provisions integrate the three pillars of sustainable development: the environmental, social and economic.  The Convention thus provides a common basis for integrated and holistic global action. In addition to UNCLOS and its implementing agreements, the international legal framework for oceans includes a number of other international instruments at the global and regional levels relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and their resources.  Together, these instruments provide an integrated and adaptive framework to address on-going and emerging issues, including challenges related to the impacts of climate change on oceans.

This international framework contains important obligations for States which relate, inter alia, to the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and its resources, protection and preservation of the marine environment, marine scientific research and the safety and security of persons at sea. If fully and effectively implemented, it would contribute substantially to the achievement of all of the targets of Goal 14, and more broadly to sustainable development, global stability and prosperity for present and future generations. 

However, the full and effective implementation of this legal framework presents challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve Goal 14 and sustainable development. Many steps can be taken at the global, regional and local levels to promote such implementation, including awareness-raising and knowledge-sharing, increasing capacity-building and technical assistance, deepening scientific knowledge of the oceans, developing sustainable financing mechanisms to support implementation, promoting cooperation and coordination at all levels, and mainstreaming oceans into the broader development agenda.

For example addressing capacity development needs is an essential building block of successful sustainable development, to ensure that States, especially developing countries, in particular the least developed countries and small island developing States as well as African coastal States, are able to fully implement UNCLOS and related instruments and benefit from the sustainable development of the oceans and seas, as well as participate fully in global and regional forums on ocean affairs and the law of the sea. 

Considering the complexity of effective implementation of the existing legal framework in a pluri-disciplinary, cross-sectoral and integrated manner, partnerships to address issues relating to capacity, such as the United Nations - The Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellowship Programme:  Human Resources Development and Advancement of the Legal Order of the World's Oceans have proved invaluable. 

What more could and should be done?  What role can you play?

We look forward to a useful discussion.”