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Pacific calls for inclusive improved global management of the high seas

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

UN treaty negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) have emphasised the need to be inclusive, and to ensure the proposed new instrument is empowered to improve overall governance of the high seas.

This was a call by the Pacific Islands Forum at the closing of the second session of the Inter-Governmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Speaking on behalf of the Forum chair, Nauru’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ms Margo Deiye said the region recognised the important role civil society would play in ongoing negotiations.

"We stress the importance our Blue Pacific places on the role of civil society participation and recognise their role, so far, in bringing us to this stage.

"It is time to turn our canoe towards our final destination and begin in earnest towards the home stretch," said Ms Deiye.

Key Pacific priorities for the negotiations, include the consideration in the future instrument of traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, the special circumstances of Small Islands Developing States, as well as the special interests of adjacent coastal states.

Taking place from March 25 to April 5, the 2nd IGC saw negotiators worked to establish the foundations for ongoing negotiations on the new Treaty.

Singapore’s representative, Special Envoy, Ambassador Rena Lee, who is the President of the Intergovernmental Conference, commended the United Nations Member States for their constructive and flexible approach.

She said discussions were focused and had made good progress towards the legally binding treaty.

The Pacific was also represented in various aspects of the Intergovernmental Conference, including in the Bureau of the Conference where the Federated States of Micronesia is serving as one of the 15 Vice-Presidents, assigned to work on procedural matters.

Pacific Women shine

Two Pacific women are playing leading roles in the negotiations, with Palau’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Olai Uludong, and New Zealand’s Head of Delegation, Ms. Alice Revell, leading two of the five informal working groups during the session.

Ambassador Uludong facilitated the session on capacity building and transfer of marine technology, while Ms Revell, of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade led the discussions in the area-based management tools, including marine protected areas working group.

The Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner led a team of legal and technical experts from the Pacific Ocean Alliance, and CROP agencies, at the current session to provide the necessary assistance and support to the Pacific delegations.

The next round of negotiations will be held from August 19 to 30 in New York.

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