Further commitments by states at the Our Ocean Conference (16-17th June) to ratify the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (PSM Agreement), will bring the PSM Agreement closer to entry into force – with nearly half the required number of parties. A Presidential Memorandum by US President Barack Obama, demonstrated continued commitment to seek congressional ratification of the PSM Agreement. As reported by the US Department of State, several states have made, or are shortly forthcoming, commitments to expanded marine protected areas (MPA) within the Pacific Ocean. This includes commitments by the Cook Islands, Bahamas and Palau – with a total area covered at approximately 3 million square kilometers. Should the announced USA Pacific Ocean MPA be formally adopted, it will replace the New Caledonia Coral Sea Nature Park as the World’s largest MPA. More information on this conference (attended by approximately 400 government officials, marine experts and conservation organizations from 80 countries) to be found here.
Monthly Archives: June 2014
The Goettingen Journal of International Law is launching its anual student essay competition. Participants are free to choose both the topic and the exact area of the international law of the sea on which their submissions will elaborate. The deadline for submissions is 15 September 2014. More information on this call can be found here.
Government, employer and worker delegates to the International Labour Conference (ILC), at the 103rd annual meeting of International Labour Organization (ILO), overwhelmingly voted in favour of approving amendments to the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC,2006) in order to better protect abandoned seafarers, and provide financial security for compensation to seafarers and their families in cases of a seafarer’s death or long-term disability. These international legal measures are aimed at improving working and living conditions for seafarers, the most globalized of the world’s workers. These amendments can be found here and this ILO press release continues here.
Countries took a major step forward in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing today as they endorsed a set of international guidelines that will hold states more accountable for the activities of fishing vessels flying their flags. The FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Flag State Performance spell out a range of actions that countries can take to ensure that vessels registered under their flags do not conduct IUU fishing, one of the greatest threats to sustainable fisheries and related livelihoods. All the information on the results of the thirty-first session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries can be found here.
Seven Members of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea were today elected at the twenty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in session at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The States Parties re-elected the following five Members: Judge Yanai (Japan), Judge Hoffmann (South Africa), Judge Pawlak (Poland), Judge Kateka (Tanzania) and Judge Paik (Republic of Korea). In addition, the Meeting elected Mr Alonso Gómez-Robledo Verduzco (Mexico) and Mr Tomas Heidar (Iceland). The judges were elected for a term of nine years commencing on 1 October 2014. More information on who’s who can be found here.
Countries today endorsed a set of wide-reaching guidelines that will boost the already vital role of small-scale fishers in contributing to global food security, nutrition and poverty eradication. The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication are designed to support the world’s millions of small-scale fishers, particularly in developing countries, by promoting their human rights and safeguarding the sustainable use of the fishery resources they depend upon for their livelihoods. Those guidelines, endorsed by FAO’s Committee on Fisheries, are published here.
In an effort to highlight the role of the oceans, and thus the importance of the Law of the Sea, the 8th June marked this year’s World Oceans Day. The celebration of World Oceans Day 2014 coincides with the first day of the twenty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention. On this occasion, some important statements have been produced:
- United Nations Secretary General message
- Director General of UNESCO
- President of the General Assembly
World Oceans Day has been marked since 2009, having been established by General Assembly Resolution 63/111, para. 171.
The foreign policy communiqué of the Group of 7 (G7), published 4th June 2014, covers an item of particular interest to the law of the sea:
Maritime Navigation and Aviation
16. We reaffirm the importance of maintaining a maritime order based upon the universally-agreed principles of international law. We remain committed to international cooperation to combat piracy and other maritime crime, consistent with international law and internationally recognised principles of jurisdiction in international waters. We are deeply concerned by tensions in the East and South China Sea. We oppose any unilateral attempt by any party to assert its territorial or maritime claims through the use of intimidation, coercion or force. We call on all parties to clarify and pursue their territorial and maritime claims in accordance with international law. We support the rights of claimants to seek peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including through legal dispute settlement mechanisms. We also support confidence-building measures. We underscore the importance of the freedom of navigation and overflight and also the effective management of civil air traffic based on international law and International Civil Aviation Organization standards and practices.
It is available here.
The Arbitral Tribunal in the case brought by the Republic of the Philippines against the People’s Republic of China under Annex VII to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“the Convention”), has issued its second Procedural Order, establishing the next steps in the timetable for the arbitration. This follows the second meeting of the Members of the Arbitral Tribunal, held at the Peace Palace in The Hague on 14 and 15 May 2014. In accordance with the Tribunal’s first Procedural Order dated 27 August 2013, the Philippines filed its Memorial on 30 March 2014, addressing matters relating to the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal, the admissibility of the Philippines’ claim, as well as the merits of the dispute. In Procedural Order No. 2, the Arbitral Tribunal fixes 15 December 2014 as the date for China to submit its Counter-Memorial responding to the Philippines’ Memorial. The Arbitral Tribunal will determine the further course of the proceedings, including the need for, and scheduling of any other written submissions and hearings, at an appropriate later stage, after seeking the views of the Parties. More information on the case here and here.
Ministers from participating States in the Code of Conduct concerning the Repression of Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in the Western Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden (the Djibouti Code of Conduct) have recognized the need to develop a mechanism for the region to run its own counter-piracy agenda, following the successful implementation by IMO of numerous projects aimed at improving regional capacity to counter piracy by developing enhanced regional cooperation and coordination. More information on this agreement can be found here.