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EU at the UN

The EU's commitment to effective multilateralism, with the UN at its core, is a central element of its external action. As a UN observer with enhanced status, the EU delegation coordinates with its 28 Member States to speak with one voice. The EU also works closely with the UN secretariat and its agencies, funds & programmes, partnering on a range of global issues and challenges.

30 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 marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits

 – As delivered – 

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its 28 member States consider the issue of marine genetic resources, including questions related to the sharing of benefits, an integral part of the package agreed in 2011. Marine genetic resources are potentially of high value for humankind in terms of benefits, goods and services they can provide. We believe that access to and use of those resources should therefore not be prohibitive, but facilitative and conducive to research and development. Administrative burdens should remain minimal. At the same time, any such access and use should pay due regard to the interests of all States and the international community as a whole as well as the interests of future generations.

In discussing this topic, we will need to give consideration to questions relating to access and sharing of benefits, and any cost-effective institutional arrangements that may be necessary to implement the Implementing Agreement in this respect. In addressing these questions, we may find guidance in existing instruments, such as the 2001 FAO International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources or the 2010 Nagoya Protocol, including its Annex.

Mr. Chair,

In the view of the EU, the Implementing Agreement should promote environmentally-sound access.

This brings me to the issue of the sharing of benefits. Benefits will only arise from marine genetic resources from areas beyond national jurisdiction after the access to and use of those resources. This is another reason why the EU and its Member States believe that access to and use of those resources should be facilitative and conducive to research and development.  The sharing of benefits could include both non-monetary benefits, that is exchange of information, public availability of information, capacity-building, access to samples and sample collections, access to technology, transfer of knowledge, transfer of technology, and monetary benefits. The indicative list of monetary and non-monetary benefits, included as an annex to the Nagoya Protocol, could be a good starting point.

Mr. Chair,

In the view of the EU and its Member States, the living organisms found in, on or under the seabed of the Area do not come within the meaning of ‘resources of the Area’ and are not therefore part of the common heritage of mankind under UNCLOS. The determination of the legal status of marine genetic resources originating from areas beyond national jurisdiction is not a precondition for any regulation of their access and use. In this respect, we would like to reiterate that a “first come, first served” approach which undermines sustainability is not acceptable. Mr Chair, the EU and its Member States look forward to engaging with other delegations on these important issues.

  • Ref: EUUN16-043EN
  • EU source: European Union
  • UN forum: Sixth Committee - Legal Committee
  • Date: 30/03/2016

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