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The BBNJ Ad Hoc Working Group Recommendations to the Sixty-Ninth Session of the General Assembly

Wednesday, 11 February 2015
The ninth meeting of 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 convened from 20-23 January 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York. The meeting was the last of three meetings (April 2014, June 2014 and January 2015) convened by the UN General Assembly through its resolution 68/70 to discuss the establishment of a new international instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The meeting was attended by around 200 participants, including national delegations, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Delegates reached consensus on 8 recommendations for a decision to be taken at the sixty-ninth session of the UN General Assembly to develop a new legally binding instrument on BBNJ under UNCLOS. Delegates also reached consensus on a negotiating process, by establishing a preparatory meeting to make recommendations on elements of a draft text of a legally binding instrument to the General Assembly in 2017 and for the Assembly to decide at its seventy-second session whether to convene an intergovernmental conference to elaborate the text of the agreement.

The Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working recommended to the General Assembly that it:
1. Reaffirm the commitment in paragraph 162 of the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 20 to 22 June 2012, entitled “The Future We Want”, as endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 66/288 of 27 July 2012, in which the heads of State and Government committed to address, on an urgent basis, building on the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group, the issue of the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, including by taking a decision on the development of an international instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“the Convention”), before the end of the sixty-ninth session of the United Nations General Assembly;

2. Note the request of the General Assembly to the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to make recommendations on the scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument under the Convention as contained in paragraph 214 of resolution 69/245;

3. Welcome the exchange of views on the scope, parameters and feasibility of an international instrument under the Convention and the progress made within the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group, within its mandate established by resolution 66/231 and in the light of resolution 67/78 to prepare for the decision on the development of an international instrument under the Convention to be taken at the sixty-ninth session of the General Assembly;

4. Stress the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction and having considered the feasibility of developing an international instrument under the Convention;

5. Decide to develop an international legally-binding instrument under the Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction and to that end:

a) prior to holding an intergovernmental conference, decide to establish a preparatory committee, open to all Member States of the United Nations, members of specialized agencies, and Parties to the Convention, with others invited as observers in accordance with past practice of the United Nations, to make substantive recommendations to the General Assembly on the elements of a draft text of an international legally-binding instrument under the Convention, taking into account the various reports of the Co-Chairs on the work of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group established pursuant to paragraph 73 of General Assembly resolution 59/24. The preparatory committee will start its work in 2016 and by the end of 2017 will report to the General Assembly on its progress.

b) before the end of the seventy-second session of the General Assembly, and taking into account the aforementioned report of the preparatory committee, will decide on the convening and on the starting date of an intergovernmental conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the preparatory committee on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally-binding instrument under the Convention.

6. Decide that negotiations shall address the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011, namely the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas, environmental impact assessments and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology;

7. Recognize that the process indicated in paragraph 5 should not undermine existing relevant legal instruments and frameworks and relevant global, regional and sectoral bodies;

8. Recognize also that neither the participation in the negotiations nor their outcome may affect the legal status of non-parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments, or the legal status of parties to the Convention or any other related agreements with regard to those instruments.

Although many were disappointed that the recommendations did not designate a date for convening of an intergovernmental conference, the meeting did succeed in charting the way forward for negotiations and, for the first time, reaching consensus on the legally binding nature of a future agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ.


Source: IISD Reporting Services, UN
For Further Information:
http://www.iisd.ca/vol25/enb2590e.html
http://www.un.org/Depts/los/biodiversityworkinggroup/biodiversityworkinggroup.htm

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