29 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 on Item 7: Development of substantive recommendations on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea: Consideration of the guiding approaches and principles of an international legally binding instrument
– As delivered –
(General principles of conservation and management)
I am honoured to speak on behalf of the European Union and its 28 Member States. The issue under consideration is also very important in our view.
As we have stated previously, we hold that UNCLOS is the overarching legal framework for carrying out all activities in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction. We believe that the Implementing Agreement should strengthen the obligations already contained in UNCLOS by establishing an express obligation on States to cooperate in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction and include general principles for good governance.
Mr. Chair, we consider that the Implementing Agreement therefore could include general principles for good governance. Such principles should include: the protection and preservation of the marine environment, international cooperation, the use of a science-based approach, the precautionary principle, the polluter-pays principle, the ecosystem approach, sustainable and equitable use, public availability of information, transparent and open decision making processes, and responsibility of States as stewards of the global marine environment. We are pleased to recognise that many delegations which have spoken previously have already mentioned many of these general principles. In addition, the EU and its Member states are willing to consider the reflection of additional relevant principles.
(Cooperation and coordination)
The EU and its Member States have already alluded to one of these additional principles earlier: the principle of cooperation and coordination. We hold that this is necessary since it is impossible for any State to achieve on its own, the goals we have set ourselves, that is conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
The EU and its Member States propose that parties to the Implementing Agreement should commit to cooperate to achieve the purposes of the Agreement, including through their participation in relevant international fora. Cooperation is already a fundamental obligation under UNCLOS with respect to the protection and preservation of the marine environment. We hold that coordination with competent organizations is essential for the effective implementation of the new instrument.
In the view of the EU and its Member States, another issue that merits attention relates to the institutional aspects of the Implementing Agreement. We consider that in order to ensure that the Implementing Agreement can successfully meet its agreed objectives, an appropriate institutional framework should be adopted. In this respect, the position of the EU and its Member States is that ‘form follows function’. We hold that the new institutions should only be established when necessary and it should be ensured that this is cost-effective. Mr Chair, we look forward to hearing the ideas which others might wish to bring forward and to discuss this further.
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