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EU Presidency Statement - Law of the Sea

Summary: April 11, 2002: Statement of the European Union, delivered by H.E. Mr. José Antonio De Yturriaga Barberán, Ambassador at Large for the Law of the Sea, on behalf of the European Union. Capacity-Building, Regional Cooperation and Integrated Ocean Management and Coordination (New York)

Mr. Co-Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union in relation to “capacity-building, regional cooperation and integrated ocean management and coordination”.

The countries associated with the European Union Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia, the associated countries Cyprus and Malta, align themselves with this statement.

General Assembly resolution 56/12 recommended the inclusion of “capacity-building, regional cooperation and coordination, and integrated ocean management, as important cross-cutting issues to address ocean affairs, such as marine science and the transfer of technology, sustainable fisheries, the degradation of the marine environment and safety of navigation.”


The European Union reiterates its belief in the essential need for capacity-building in order to ensure that all States are able to implement UNCLOS as well as both to provide for and benefit from sustainable development of the oceans and seas. This need is duly reflected in Agenda 21 as a basic requirement to follow sustainable development paths. For its part, UNCLOS has many provisions concerning capacity-building with regard to the Area, marine environment, and marine scientific research and transfer of technology.

The European Union is aware that the international community is making good efforts to improve capacity-building. Interesting examples of this improvement may be found in the last Report of the Secretary-General of March 2002, which contains the results of a survey of the capacity-building activities of the organizations of the UN system related to oceans and seas carried out by UNDP in 2000. Nevertheless, the European Union believes that these efforts should be multiplied and continued by setting up sufficiently comprehensive programs to support the building of the various capacities needed in order to achieve a proper implementation of UNCLOS by all States. For instance, capacity-building regarding documentation of aquatic biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and historical developments for assessing realistic future trajectories would benefit greatly from concerted cooperation efforts in knowledge and learning. Therefore, the European Union advocates for a truly integrated approach to ocean use and governance involving all governments and stakeholders, and supported by scientific knowledge and a blend of national, regional, and international instruments and partnerships.

In this sense, the European Union continues its effort to improve capacity-building by several means, such as the implementation and enforcement of the law of the sea, and the development of proposals for new legislation where needed. For the European Union, capacity-building measures also cover the collection and analysis of scientific data, the operation of navigational and other installations, and the response to emergencies. Among the many examples of Community actions in these fields, let us mention, for instance, the new proposal for EU legislation on European Community monitoring, control and information of maritime traffic, which would contribute to enhance maritime safety, prevent pollution from ships and to facilitate search and rescue in the event of an accident.

As regards to technical and financial cooperation, rather than simple transfer of technology, know-how and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries, the European Union’s view supports the construction of a “developing partnership” meaning an all-inclusive improved collaboration among all stakeholders in existing appropriate fora.

Recognizing the work of the regional organizations, inter alia those organizations in which the EC participates, the EU would like to mention the following developments needed to improve capacity-building:


Regional cooperation concerning oceans and seas is key for the European Union. We have witnessed the growth and expansion of regional programs and regional organizations in the field of ocean affairs over the last decades. However, the existing regional arrangements on ocean use and governance address specific issues, and there is a need for an integrated policy approach to the implementation of the UNCLOS and the management of human activities affecting the seas. In this sense, coordination between regional bodies is also needed to support regional cooperation and to improve its efficiency.

Having said that, the European Union favors the continued strengthening of regional cooperation through, among others, the following actions:PART III: INTEGRATED OCEAN MANAGEMENT

Integrated Ocean Management is not only the most appropriated framework for achieving long term goals for oceans and seas development, but also a necessary one to assure a proper sustainable development of the oceans and seas within the normative structure established by UNCLOS.

The challenge of ocean governance includes the establishment of decision-making bodies that can conserve and protect ecosystems while providing opportunities for wealth creation for oceans related economies and communities. Integrated management complements sectoral management, particularly by providing decision-makers and regulators with access to the information and advice required to develop sectoral measures which support ecosystem-based management.

The efforts to strengthening an integrated ocean management policy should come from many sources. A scientific approach to integrated management is necessary, but not enough. The implementation of effective ocean and coastal integrated management involves establishing the necessary network (policy, legal, financial, and technical), and requires the involvement of governmental organizations, local communities and of the private sector. Moreover, these efforts should also concentrate in establishing a regular interagency coordination process and sustainable management of coastal areas and marine resources at all levels. In this sense, the European Union supports the implementation of the Washington Global Program of Action for the Protection of Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA), and other measures, such as setting up a network of Marine Protected Areas and taking measures to establish sustainable fisheries.

The EU thus recognizes the importance of the assessment of the state of the marine environment at the global level, such as the Marine Assessment currently being produced by Global International Waters Assessment (GIWA) and by the Global Observatory of Ocean Systems (GOOS), and welcomes the work undertaken by UNEP in this respect.

The European Union, therefore, believes that the following requirements are necessary for the development of integrated ocean management:The EU is developing a Thematic Strategy for the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment which aims to cope with the threats to the marine environment and its biodiversity in an integrated and science-based approach. The Thematic Strategy is an integral part of the EU 6th Environment Action Program, devised within the framework of the EU’s Sustainable Development Strategy, and is also linked to the EU 6th Framework Research Program. It will include, among others, the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and that of the Community Chemicals Policy.

The Thematic Strategy will complement the Strategy on Integrated Coastal Zone Management, adopted by the Commission in 2000, which is designed to improve the social, economic and environmental conditions in the coastal areas, through enhanced policy coordination, more informed decision-making processes, and greater involvement of the various stakeholders. The latter strategy is to be endorsed by a recommendation of the European Council, calling on member States to develop national strategies to promote the integrated management of their coastal zones, including both land and marine components, stressing the importance of cross-border cooperation and collaboration at the level of regional seas.

In conclusion, Mr.Co-Chairman, the EU re-states its opinion about the imperative need to promote and rationalize capacity-building, and enhance integrated ocean management and regional cooperation, specially with the help of some coordinating mechanism, in order to achieve the successful implementation and enforcement of the legal framework provided by UNCLOS, Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and other relevant instruments.

Thank you very much.

  • Ref: PRES02-058EN
  • EU source: EU Presidency
  • UN forum: Sixth Committee (Legal Affairs)
  • Date: 11/4/2002

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European Union Member States