28 March 2016, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292: Development of 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: Item 6: General Statement
– As delivered –
Thank you for giving me the floor on behalf of the European Union and its twenty eight Member States. Mr. Chair, I would like to join the previous speakers in congratulating you once more on your appointment as chair of this important process for the development of an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. I would like to stress that we look forward to a fruitful cooperation with you throughout the process. Let me also congratulate the members of the bureau. We are confident that they will be of great assistance in respect of the procedural matters that will come up in your work. We would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his opening remarks. Finally, we would like to thank DOALOS for their indispensable support and assistance to this process.
(What are we talking about?)
We have come a long way. It was in the General Assembly resolution of November 2004 that the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction was established. After 12 years, we reached the next phase of our journey towards an Implementing Agreement. The EU and its Member States which were among the first to champion the need for such a legally binding instrument under UNCLOS continue to be firmly committed to this process.
We note that the current process of negotiations in the four sessions of the PrepCom is aimed at developing substantive recommendations on the topics of the package. As agreed in Resolution 69/292, negotiations shall address the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011. We are confident that we will be able to overcome any challenges that lie ahead and bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion together.
(What do we expect to achieve?)
The EU and its Member States have high expectations from this process. The Implementing Agreement has two main objectives – the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We hold that these objectives can only be reached if all the different elements are addressed in an integral and balanced manner. We should ensure that these negotiations will lead to an instrument that achieves these objectives.
We recognize the important work that has been done by the BBNJ working group in the process leading up to the adoption of Resolution 69/292. On this basis we now need to take the process further and develop substantive recommendations on the elements of a draft text. We also recognise that many delegations will want to make general statements and that time is short; consequently we are keeping this intervention short. However, we will be sharing our ideas on the different parts of the package under the relevant agenda items. We agree with other delegations that the time has arrived to focus on the substantive issues and to start unpacking the package in order to improve our common understanding of the issues and related concerns.
We are also aware that discussions on marine genetic resources, area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology will only be preliminary at this session. We look forward to hearing and examining all ideas which all delegations put forward at this session of the Preparatory Committee and which will continue to be developed at the next session.
The time has come, following 12 years of scoping, to unwrap and flesh out the package, list the issues and to start developing the elements of a draft text. We look forward to the forthcoming two weeks. We are confident that under your strong leadership and with the constructive attitude of all delegations in the same positive spirit as in the adoption of Resolution 69/292 this first session of the PrepCom will be a success. We reiterate that we are ready to assist and support you.
I thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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