Madam Co-chair, Mr. Co-chair,
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States.
We find it is imperative to contribute to identifying the existing gaps.
UNCLOS is the cornerstone of the current international legal framework governing oceans and seas. It is widely accepted that UNCLOS is the Constitutional Charter of the Oceans which establishes the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.
In our view, however, it would be unrealistic to expect a framework convention like UNCLOS to incorporate all the detailed provisions that may be required for the regulation of a specific activity.
In addition, also as the consequence of new activities that have developed after the adoption of UNCLOS, important gaps today exist in the specific regulation of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in ABNJ.
They need to be filled through a third UNCLOS Implementing Agreement which strengthens and gives a more specific content to obligations already embodied in UNCLOS, such as the general obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment (Art. 192) as well as the obligation to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems and the habitats of depleted, threatened or endangered species or other forms of marine life (Art. 194, para. 5).
We consider that some of the regulatory gaps are self-evident and do not need much elaboration.
How can we establish a network of MPA in ABNJ that has global recognition, as it is recommended by many policy instruments, without a mechanism set forth by a specific instrument?
How can an international regime regulating the conservation and sustainable use of MGR be envisaged without a specific instrument?
How can a regime for access to, and sharing of benefits coming from, MGR be established, without a specific instrument? The negotiations for such an instrument should proceed with the utmost care, in order to take into consideration and balance the positions of all the States concerned and achieve a result that could lead to a universally accepted instrument.
Another evident regulatory gap stems from the fact that today, beside the maritime activities that are fully regulated in UNCLOS and its two Implementing Agreements, new activities are being carried out or planned. There is no global mechanism yet in place to guide the development of such activities, to determine their impact on the marine environment, as well as, where appropriate, to assess the cumulative impact of traditional and new marine activities.
In our view, an UNCLOS Implementing Agreement is the solution to the problem. It would establish a comprehensive legal, institutional and governance framework that addresses and fills existing gaps.
The EU and its Member States further wish to make some suggestions regarding the way forward. As previously stated in this meeting, we attach great importance to move forward at a more rapid pace now, moving away from the status quo.
We would like to suggest the following procedure:
· the present BBNJ WG meeting should recommend to the General Assembly at its 67th session that negotiations on the UNCLOS Implementing Agreement should be initiated at the earliest possible date.
· One or two workshops should, in accordance with Terms of Reference, to be adopted by this BBNJ WG, provide input to the next BBNJ WG meeting in 2013 in order to facilitate further negotiations on the UNCLOS Implementing Agreement.
The EU and its Member States will revert in more detail to the issue of workshops under agenda item 6.
Thank you Madam Co-chair, Mr. Co-chair.