By: Christian Prip
Matter commented on: First session of 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, 4 – 17 September, 2018, New York.
A process towards an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) under the Law of Sea Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) has been under way for 14 years operating under different mandates of the UN General Assembly establishing different negotiating groups. Overviews and the history of the process are provided in JCLOS blog posts of 17 August 2015 by Anna-Maria Hubert and of 21 October 2016 by this author.
The latest phase in this long process was triggered by UNGA resolution 72/249 authorizing an Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument. The IGC held its first meeting in September 2018. The meeting was mainly used to clarify positions of different delegations on the elements of the package agreed in 2011 as the basis for the instrument. These are:
– marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits,
– measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas,
– environmental impact assessments and
– capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.
Real negotiations on a text will start at the second session of the IGC, 25 March – 5 April 2019. For that purpose, the IGC President will prepare a document containing treaty-language and reflecting options on the four elements in accordance with the range of the diverging views expressed at IGC1. A third and a fourth meeting will take place in late 2019 and early 2020.
This blog post offers some thoughts on the relevance of a future legal instrument for the protection of biodiversity in the Arctic Ocean (AO), its relationship with existing instruments governing the AO and on whether Arctic States should move ahead of the global process with regard to protection of the AO.