As previously reported, the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in March 2023 was subject to differing statements on the period of renewal. On 17 May 2023, it was confirmed (2) that the Russian Federation aligned its position with the other parties and will also continue its participation in the Black Sea Initiative for another 60 days. Ukraine welcomed ‘unblocking‘ of the agreement, following Ukraine’s previous objections (17 April 2023) to claimed interference in the inspection plan. On 15 May 2023, the UK likewise objected to delays and the blocking of vessel inspections, called for a sustained and stable deal, and “urge Russia to stop threatening to leave the initiative”. An update (8 May 2023) from the Office of the UN Coordinator for the Black Sea Grain Initiative confirmed “[s]ince 1 May, the JCC inspection rate has dropped significantly”, with no inspections on 7-8 May 2023. As of 8 May 2023, the total exports of grain and foodstuffs under the Initiative is 29,798,277 metric tonnes, while there have been no exports of fertilizers so far. Official reports (2) concerning a quadrilateral meeting between Ukraine, Türkiye, Russia and the UN on 10-11 May 2023 involved discussions of “the recent proposals by the United Nations, namely the resumption of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline, the longer extension of the deal, improvements at the Joint Coordination Centre for stable operations and exports, as well as other issues raised by the parties”.
Category Archives: International Organizations
Russia: Extension of Participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative
ASEAN: Declaration on the Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers
As the current chair of ASEAN, Indonesia hosted the 42nd ASEAN Summit, 9–11 May 2023, in Labuan Bajo (Indonesia). Among the outcome documents, on 10 May 2023 the ASEAN Member States adopted the ASEAN Declaration on The Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers. Among interesting non-binding provisions are:
FURTHER RECOGNISING the shared responsibility of ASEAN Member States to protect and fulfill the rights of migrant fishers in the entire migration cycle and to prevent and combat forced labour, child labour and trafficking in persons in fishing vessels considering the proximity and connecting borders of ASEAN Member States;
4. IMPROVE the entire migration process of migrant fishers through improvement in ethical and fair recruitment and placement; pre-employment, pre-departure and post-arrival orientations; and access to employment contract or proper documentation in the language they understand;
6. ENCOURAGE ASEAN Member States to initiate or conclude bilateral agreements among each other and with countries outside the region to facilitate safe and regular migration of migrant fishers especially in recruitment and placement processes, safe repatriation and reintegration, and access to justice and remedies;
7. EXPLORE cooperation among ASEAN Member States on data collection and sharing on, but not limited to, case management, recruitment and repatriation of migrant fishers in and outside of ASEAN, and sharing of best practices and lessons learned in the migration process of migrant fishers;ASEAN Declaration on The Placement and Protection of Migrant Fishers (2023)
For further information see the other statements adopted at the 42nd ASEAN Summit here.
UNGA: Further resumed fifth session of IGC to adopt the finalised BBNJ Agreement
On 18 April 2023 the United Nations General Assembly adopted (without a vote) UNGA Decision 77/556 (currently available as UN Doc. A/77/L.62), convening a further resumed fifth session of the intergovernmental conference on 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 (BBNJ Agreement). The further resumed fifth session of the IGC will convene with a view to adopting the finalised BBNJ Agreement (advanced unedited version (March 2023)), with tentative dates of 19–20 June 2023. In the meantime, an open-ended informal working group is established to ensure the uniformity of terminology throughout the text of the draft BBNJ Agreement and to harmonise the versions in the six official languages of the UN. See previous reporting here.
Filed under International Organizations, Treaties
EU: Extension of Emission Trading Scheme to Maritime Transport
On 25 April 2023 the Council of the EU adopted a series of laws which will provide for the inclusion of maritime transport within the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The vote in the Council is the last step of the decision-making procedure, a procedure initiated in 2013 when the Commission adopted a strategy for progressively integrating maritime transport emissions into the European Union’s policy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2003/87/EC establishing a system for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Union and Decision (EU) 2015/1814 concerning the establishment and operation of a market stability reserve for the Union greenhouse gas emission trading system (2023) provides the necessary amendments “to include maritime transport activities in the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) in order to ensure that those activities contribute their fair share to the increased climate objectives of the Union as well as to the objectives of the Paris Agreement”, while the Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EU) 2015/757 in order to provide for the inclusion of maritime transport activities in the EU Emissions Trading System and for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions of additional greenhouse gases and emissions from additional ship types (2023) provides the necessary amendments to the MRV Regulation to take account of said extension of the EU ETS to maritime transport and related updates, namely “to provide for monitoring, reporting and verification rules that are necessary for an extension of the EU ETS to maritime transport activities and to provide for the monitoring, reporting and verification of emissions of additional greenhouse gases and emissions from additional ship types” (Recitals 8 & 12, emphasis added). Once published in Official Journal of the EU the directive and regulation will be legally binding.
Of note in respect of its relations to developments of a global market-based mechanism through the International Maritime Organization (IMO):
Efforts to limit global maritime emissions through the IMO are under way and should be encouraged, including the rapid implementation of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships, adopted in 2018, which also refers to possible market-based measures to incentivise greenhouse gas emission reductions from international shipping. However, while recently there has been progress in the IMO, this has so far not been sufficient to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement. Given the international character of shipping, it is important that the Member States and the Union within their respective competences work with third countries to step up diplomatic efforts to strengthen global measures and make progress on the development of a global market-based measure at IMO level.Directive 2003/87/EC (as amended April 2023), Recital 19.
Directive 2003/87/EC (as amended April 2023), Article 3gg(1) addresses the EU response “in the event of the adoption by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of a global market-based measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport”, while Article 3gg(2) addresses the EU response “in the event that the IMO does not adopt by 2028 a global market-based measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from maritime transport in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and at least to a level comparable to that resulting from the Union measures taken under this Directive”.
IOTC: Resolution on DFADs & IOTC Members Objections
A Special Session of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (SS6) was held 3-5 February 2023 (Kenya), with the stated objective “the aim of the Special Session is to adopt a conservation and management measure on Fish Aggregating Devices”. This followed inaction on the issue at the 26th Session in May 2022. The 6th Special Session (IOTC Circular 2023-09) adopted Resolution 23-01 On management of Anchored Fish Aggregating Devices (AFADs) and Resolution 23-02 On Management of Drifting Fish Aggregating Devices (DFADs) in the IOTC area of competence, the latter adopted by a two-thirds majority vote.
Pursuant to Article IX of the IOTC Agreement, a number of Members have since formally objected to Resolution 23-02, namely Comoros (IOTC Circular 2023-11), Seychelles (IOTC Circular 2023-19), European Union (IOTC Circular 2023-26), Oman (IOTC Circular 2023-12), Philippines (IOTC Circular 2023-20), Kenya (IOTC Circular 2023-14), and Somalia (IOTC Circular 2023-18; IOTC Circular 2023-22 objection since withdrawn). In response to some of the statements made on Resolution 23-02, Indonesia circulated a statement “countering the misinterpretation of Resolution 23-02”, its statement representing a shared understanding by “a number” of the other Resolution 23-02 co-sponsoring states (IOTC Circular 2023-24).
Ukraine/Türkiye/Russia: Extension of Black Sea Grain Initiative
The previously reported Black Sea Grain Initiative foresees a renewal of 120 days, as previously occurred, in Paragraph 5(H):
H. This initiative will remain in effect for 120 days from the date of signature by all Parties and can be extended automatically for the same period, unless one of the Parties notifies the other of the intent to terminate the initiative, or to modify it.Initiative on the Safe Transportation of Grain and Foodstuffs from Ukrainian Ports
On 14 March 2023, the deadline of possible expiry, the Black Sea Grain Initiative was renewed by the parties, with the UN Secretariat continuing to reference the previously reported MoU on Russian Food Products and Fertilizers between Russia and UN Secretariat, which expires 22 July 2025 (Paragraph 6). The UN Secretary-General press release is silent on the length of extension, however the Ministry for the Restoration of Ukraine refers to a 120 days extension, while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia refers to 60 days extension, with the possibility that after 60 days there will be a further decision on extension or “[Russia’s] participation in the Black Sea Initiative will be suspended”.
UNGA: Request for an ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Obligation of States in Respect of Climate Change
On 29 March 2023 the UNGA adopted, by consensus without a vote, Resolution 77/276: Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change (currently available as UN Doc. A/77/L.58). The previously reported ICJ Core Group of Nations, led by Vanuatu, were joined by 132 Co-Sponsors in tabling the resolution. The operative paragraph provides that the UNGA:
Decides, in accordance with Article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations, to request the International Court of Justice, pursuant to Article 65 of the Statute of the Court, to render an advisory opinion on the following question:
“Having particular regard to the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the duty of due diligence, the rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principle of prevention of significant harm to the environment and the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment,UNGA Resolution 77/276, pp. 3-4.
(a) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for present and future generations;
(b) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect to:
(i) States, including, in particular, small island developing States, which due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?
(ii) Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change?
UNDP: Operational Phase of FSO Safer Emergency Plan
As previously reported, in 2022 the UN Plan for the FSO Safer Tanker Stop the Red Sea Catastrophe had received sufficient funding pledges to start the first phase of the emergency operation. In September 2022 preparatory work for the operation began, however a significant price increase in the market for suitable vessels to undertake the operation since occured, “chiefly due to factors related to the war in Ukraine”. Therefore, on 9 March 2023 the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed an agreement with Euronav to secure the purchase of a Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), with an anticipated arrival at the mooring location of the FSO Safer in May 2023 to begin operations. “The purchase of this suitable vessel by UNDP marks the beginning of the operational phase of the UN-coordinated plan” (UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner).
UN: negotiations on BBNJ Agreement concluded
On 4 March 2023, the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), successfully concluded negotiations on a new international agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The BBNJ Agreement is the culmination of discussions that began in 2004 under the auspices of the United Nations to enhance the international legal regime concerning the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the oceans beyond the exclusive economic zones and continental shelves of states. The BBNJ Agreement covers access to and use of marine genetic resources; the adoption of conservation and sustainable use measures and the conduct of environmental impact assessments in the maritime areas beyond national jurisdiction; and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology. The draft (advanced, unedited, pending paragraph renumbering) may be found here.
Filed under International Organizations, Treaties
Further Refreshed Draft Text of a BBNJ Agreement
Pursuant to General Assembly Resolution 77/248 (para. 275), the resumed fifth session of the intergovernmental conference on 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 is currently being held, 20 February – 3 March 2023, at UNHQ (New York, USA). In preparation for the resumed fifth session, a Further refreshed draft text of an agreement 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 (12 December 2022) (see further, tracked changes version) was made public on 1 February 2023. Furthermore, on 1 February 2023 the Compilation of outcomes of small group work submitted after the issuance of the Refreshed draft text and Ending point of the Facilitators-led discussions held on 26 August 2022 was made public. For further information see previous reporting.
ICJ Core Group of Nations: Final Draft Resolution for ICJ AO Initiative
Following previously reported draft resolutions and consultations, on 20 February 2023, the ICJ Core Group of Nations, led by the Republic of Vanuatu, released a Final Draft Resolution entitled, Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change, for consideration of co-sponsorship by 1 March 2023. Adoption by the UN General Assembly is expected to be sought by proponents in March/April 2023. The operative provision would request an ICJ advisory opinion on the following question:
Having particular regard to the Charter of the United Nations, the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris Agreement, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the duty of due diligence, the rights recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the principle of prevention of significant harm to the environment, and the duty to protect and preserve the marine environment,UNGA Draft Resolution (20 February 2023), Request for an advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the obligations of States in respect of climate change
(1) What are the obligations of States under international law to ensure the protection of the climate system and other parts of the environment from anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases for States and for present and future generations;
(2) What are the legal consequences under these obligations for States where they, by their acts and omissions, have caused significant harm to the climate system and other parts of the environment, with respect to:
(a) States, including, in particular, small island developing States, which due to their geographical circumstances and level of development, are injured or specially affected by or are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change?
(b) Peoples and individuals of the present and future generations affected by the adverse effects of climate change?”
Informal translations of the final Resolution are available in French, Spanish and Portuguese on the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative website.
CLCS: Recommendations for the Russian Federation in respect of the Arctic Ocean
On 6 February 2023 the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) approved, with amendments, Recommendations in regard to the partial revised submission made by the Russian Federation in respect of the Arctic Ocean (3 August 2015; Addenda 31 March 2021 (previously reported)). The CLCS Recommendations include:
119. The Commission recommends that the Russian Federation proceeds to establish the outer limits of the continental shelf from fixed point 2G2_rev to fixed point 3E1_fin in Nansen Basin, from fixed point 4G1_rev to fixed point 8H11 in Amundsen Basin, and from fixed point 10H1_rev to fixed point 10D161 in Canada Basin (Figure 25; Table 3 of annex I).
120. Due to insufficient data and information provided for the outer edge of the continental margin, the outer limits of the continental shelf in the southern part of Amundsen Basin have not been defined (see chapters 3 and 5).The Commission recommends that the Russian Federation makes a partial revised submission in respect of its continental shelf in that area.
121. The Commission recognizes that the establishment of the final outer limits of the continental shelf of the Russian Federation in the Arctic Ocean may depend on continental shelf delimitation with neighboring States.CLCS, Summary of the Recommendations, pp. 38-40.
For further information see Russia’s partial revised Submission in respect of the Arctic Ocean, including communications received from Canada, United States of America and Denmark, as well as the previous findings and recommendations concerning a partial revised submission in respect of its extended continental shelf in the Central Arctic Ocean (Submission by the Russian Federation).
UNGA: 2022 Resolutions Adopted on Law of the Sea & Sustainable Fisheries
On 9 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted Resolution 77/118: Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments, without a vote. On 20 December 2022 UNGA adopted Resolution 77/242: 2025 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, without a vote, which envisages the convening of a high-level 2025 United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, supported by Costa Rica and France Finally, on 30 December 2022, UNGA adopted Resolution 77/248: Oceans and the law of the sea, (draft resolution currently accessible) with a vote (159-1-3).
For further information see reporting of the debate, as well as coverage (2) of the plenary meetings of the General Assembly to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the adoption of UNCLOS (see: Resolution 77/5)
COSIS: Six Members of the Commission
As of 1 January 2023, the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS) is comprised of six States, who are Parties to the COSIS Agreement (Article 3(2)). In order of date of effect, the Parties are Antigua and Barbuda (Definitive signature, 31 October 2021); Tuvalu (Definitive signature, 31 October 2021); Palau (Accession, 1 November 2021); Niue (Accession, 13 September 2022); Vanuatu (Accession, 2 December 2022) and St Lucia (Accession, 7 December 2022).
For more information on the Commission’s activities see previous reporting (2), (3), (4).
Canada: Addendum to Partial Submission to CLCS (Arctic Ocean)
As previously reported, on 23 May 2019 Canada had made a partial submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean. On 19 December 2022 Canada submitted its Addendum to the Partial Submission of Canada to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, see executive summary (french), to the CLCS. As summarised in the executive summary:
This addendum to the 2019 partial submission delineates additional outer limits of continental shelf, including along the full length of the Central Arctic Plateau (Lomonosov Ridge, Alpha Ridge and Mendeleev Rise, with the intervening Podvodnikov Basin and Makarov Basin), beyond 200 M from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
Noting in particular article 77 [of UNCLOS], Canada reserves the right to submit information in respect of other areas or portions of its continental shelf.
This submission is made, consistent with article 76(10) and article 9 of Annex II of [UNCLOS] without prejudice to future delimitation between Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark, the Russian Federation and the United States of America.Addendum to the Partial Submission of Canada to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean, pp. 5 and 10.
For more information see here and UN Doc. CLCS.84.2019.LOS (Continental Shelf Notification) (20 December 2022).
ITLOS: Request for an Advisory Opinion Submitted by COSIS
On 12 December 2022 ITLOS received a Request for an Advisory Opinion from the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law (COSIS), pursuant to Article 2(2) of the COSIS Agreement and Article 21 of the ITLOS Statute and Article 138 of the Rules of the Tribunal (see previous reporting on COSIS; and on advisory opinion jurisdiction, the SRFC Advisory Opinion).
By unanimous decision of the COSIS Members at the Third Meeting of COSIS on 26 August 2022 (comprising of Antigua and Barbuda; Tuvalu; and the Republic of Palau. Note: Niue, Republic of Vanuatu and Saint Lucia all acceded to the COSIS Agreement after 26 August 2022), COSIS decided to refer the following question to ITLOS for an Advisory Opinion (registered as ITLOS Case No. 31):
What are the specific obligations of State Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (the “UNCLOS”), including under Part XII:
(a) to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment in relation to the deleterious effects that result or are likely to result from climate change, including through ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification, which are caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere?
(b) to protect and preserve the marine environment in relation to climate change impacts, including ocean warming and sea level rise, and ocean acidification?Request for an Advisory Opinion of 12 December 2022, p. 1
Note, the COSIS Members decision is based on an approval of Recommendation CLE. 1/2022/Rec of the Committee of Legal Experts (18 June 2022) which was assisted by the work of the Sub-Committee on Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment. Consistent with the mandates of the Commission (Art 1(3), COSIS Agreement), the Sub-Committee on Sea-Level Rise, Sub-Committee on Human Rights, and the Sub-Committee on Loss and Damages continue to operate and may “propose further activities that the Commission may undertake to contribute to the definition, implementation, and progressive development of rules and principles of international law concerning climate change” (Third Meeting of COSIS, Decision 3). Without prejudice to if it will be utilised, note in this respect Article 2(2) of the COSIS Agreement authorises the Commission to request advisory opinions (plural) from ITLOS.
As previously reported COSIS supported the Vanuatu ICJ Advisory Opinion Initiative, and Decision 2 of the Third Meeting of COSIS provides “that the Committee of Legal Experts should assist members of the Commission in making submissions to the ICJ as appropriate”.
For more information see the ITLOS Press Release.
ICCAT: management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna adopted
The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has for the first time in its history adopted a management procedure for Atlantic bluefin tuna. This novel measure, which is the result of the extensive collaboration among scientists, managers and stakeholders, should ensure long-term, sustainable and profitable fisheries of both the western stock and eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean stock. New management measures were also agreed for both North and South Atlantic swordfish stocks. More information available in ICCAT’s press release (21 November 2022).
OSPAR: consultation on the proposed expansion of the NACES MPA
The OSPAR Commission for the protection of the marine environment of the North-East Atlantic (OSPAR) is seeking views on whether to extend the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (NACES MPA) to cover the seabed and other species and habitats. This consultation, that starts on 1 December 2022 for a period of 3 months, invites views on new evidence presented in the revised nomination proforma that seeks to demonstrate clear linkages between the benthic and pelagic systems, explaining why this site is so important for seabirds and other species. More information is available here.
Filed under International Organizations, Surveys
Russia: Indefinite Suspension of Participation in Black Sea Grain Initiative
In response to a 29 October 2022 attack on Russian Naval assets located in a naval base on the occupied Ukrainian territory of Sevastopol (UN General Assembly Resolution 68/262), Russia declared it will suspend its implementation of the (previously reported) Black Sea Grain Initiative with immediate effect for an indefinite period on the basis “the Russian side can no longer guarantee the safety of civilian dry cargo ships participating in the Black Sea Grain Initiative”. According to the Joint Coordination Centre (JCC), “The Russian Federation delegation also expressed its readiness to cooperate remotely on issues that require immediate decision by the JCC”. No agreement on vessel movements in the corridor was reached for 30 October 2022, but, in order to continue fulfilling the Initiative, “it was proposed that the Turkish and United Nations delegations provide [31 October 2022] 10 inspection teams aiming to inspect 40 outbound vessels”, an inspection plan accepted by the Ukraine delegation and informed to the Russian Federation. The “Ukrainian, Turkish and United Nations delegations agreed on a movement plan for [31 October 2022] for the maritime humanitarian corridor of 16 vessels, 12 outbound and 4 inbound”. The Russian delegation was informed of said movement plans. Among others, the UN Secretary General and Türkiye issued statements in response to the Russian suspension of its participation, the latter suggesting one consequence will be “during this period, there will be no ship exits from Ukraine”.
Earlier, on 20 October 2022, UNCTAD had reported on the contributions of the Black Sea Initiative to global food security. In the week before Russia’s suspension of participation, the JCC had reported on 24 October 2022 on delays and disruptions that had resulted in a backlog of vessels waiting in the territorial waters of Türkiye. A statement by Ukraine attributed these delays to the actions of Russia concerning inspections, while a Russian statement attributed delays to “an artificial traffic jam has been created in the port of Istanbul”.
For further information see the below map of the Black Sea Grain Initiative Shipping Route (25 August 2022) produced by the JCC (Sevastopol is not visible on the map as it lies eastward of the eastern boundary of the map).
Vanuatu: Announcement of ICJ Core Group of Nations (ICJ AO Initiative)
On 27 October 2022 the Republic of Vanuatu formally announced at the UN General Assembly the composition of the ICJ Core Group of Nations, which currently includes: Antigua & Barbuda, Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Germany, Liechtenstein, Federated States of Micronesia, Morocco, Mozambique, New Zealand, Portugal, Samoa, Singapore, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Viet Nam, and Vanuatu. The Core Group of Nations are producing a zero draft of a resolution to be put before the UN General Assembly requesting an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and builds on previously reported formal endorsements by the respective leaders of CARICOM, PIF & OACPS. Note, Antigua & Barbuda is a member of the ICJ Core Group of Nations, aligning with the previously reported support of COSIS for the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative.
The currently reported schedule by the Vanuatu ICJ Initiative notes a zero draft of the proposed UNGA Resolution will be made public by 14 November 2022, opened for informal negotiations by 21 November 2022 and tabled for a vote by the UNGA between December 2022-February 2023 (i.e. during 77th Session of UNGA). The current draft question is not detailed in the Joint Statement, the Vanuatu Press Release, or the Resolution Elements Summary (October 2022), but possibilities are noted:
An opinion of the International Court of Justice could, among other things:
Vanuatu, Joint Statement on behalf of Core Group of Nations, UNGA, 27 October 2022.
- Clarify the rights and obligations of States in respect of the adverse impacts of climate change on small island developing states and other climate vulnerable states, in particular, thereby facilitating international cooperation in this area;
- Encourage States to reflect their highest possible level of ambition, in keeping with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in light of their different national circumstances, in preparing their NDCs under the Paris Agreement and supporting climate action;
- Clarify the due diligence requirements relating to climate action for emitters of greenhouse gases– past, present and future, and
- Clarify the implications for the human rights of present and future generations.
For further information, note that UNEP also released its Emissions Gap Report 2022 on 27 October 2022. The executive summary (p. XVI) notes “Policies currently in place with no additional action are projected to result in global warming of 2.8°C over the twenty-first century. Implementation of unconditional and conditional NDC scenarios reduce this to 2.6°C and 2.4°C respectively”. The UNEP Press Release summarises “the international community is still falling far short of the Paris goals, with no credible pathway to 1.5°C in place”.
CCAMLR: Ecuador Becomes a Member of the Commission
On 24 June 2022, Ecuador acceded to the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, thereby becoming an Acceding Party (Article XXIX). Acceding Parties are bound by the provisions of the CAMLR Convention, but are not permitted to fish in the CAMLR Convention Area, do not participate in decision-making, and do not contribute financially. On 19 October 2022 Ecuador then became a Member of the Commission. Consistent with Article VII(2)(b) of the CAMLR Convention, the press release by CCAMLR Secretariat notes Ecuador is currently engaged in research activities in relation to the marine living resources to which the CAMLR Convention applies. Members are involved in scientific research and/or fishing subject to CCAMLR Conservation Measures (Articles IX & XXI), contribute to the CCAMLR budget (Article XIX) and participate in decision-making (Article XII).
UN: FSO Safer Emergency Operation Funded
An ongoing UN-Coordinated Plan aims to prevent and prepare for a possible oil spill from the deteriorating floating storage and offloading unit, FSO Safer, moored off the coast of Yemen, with an estimated 1.14 million barrels of light crude oil on board (IMO Circular Letter No. 4561). The UN-Coordinated Operation Plan is undertaken in close consultation with Yemeni parties, including the support of the Government of Yemen in Aden and a Memorandum of Understanding (5 March 2022) with the Sana’a-based authorities, which control the area where the vessel is located. Following additional funding pledges by the Netherlands on 17 September 2022, the $75 million required to start the first phase of the emergency operation was reached (via public participation, UN crowdfunding campaign and donor states). On 21 September 2022 the Netherlands, the United States and Germany, as the largest donors, co-hosted a high-level side event (2) at the United Nations General Assembly Week addressing necessary follow-up steps and how the operation will actually be carried out. The emergency salvage operation will involve transferring the oil into a safe vessel. The second phase, which will require an additional $38 million, envisages installing a permanent storage solution and scrapping the FSO Safer.
ISA: LTC Recommendations allow polymetallic nodule collector testing in Clarion-Clipperton Zone
On 22 July 2011 Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Metals Company, was granted a polymetallic nodule exploration contract concerning 4 areas in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ), sponsored by the government of the Republic of Nauru.
An environmental impact statement from NORI regarding its plans to carry out testing of a polymetallic nodule collector system components, in the NORI-D Contract Area of the eastern Clarion-Clipperton Zone was submitted on 30 July 2021, with updates and resubmission on 1 March 2022. A Environmental Management and Monitoring Plan (EMMP) was submitted on 2 May 2022. The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) made requests concerning the detail of the EIA in March 2022 and both the EIA and EMMP in July 2022 (ISBA/27/C/16/Add.1, paras. 42-47):
The Commission therefore decided that it was unable to recommend to the Secretary-General of the Authority that the environmental impact statement be included in the programme of activities of NORI.ISBA/27/C/16/Add.1, para. 46.
In August 2022 the LTC concluded its review of the additional information provided by NORI on 1 August 2022 and recommended to the Secretary-General of ISA that the completed EIS be incorporated into the programme of NORI’s activities under its exploration contract with ISA. On 5 September 2022, the Secretary-General notified the contractor of the recommendation of the LTC (ISA Press Release) and the pilot collection system trials in the NORI-D Exploration Area (see below) are scheduled to begin in September 2022.
ECOWAS: Supplementary Act on piracy suspects adopted
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) adopted the Supplementary Act on the Conditions of Transfer of Persons Suspected of Having Committed Acts of Piracy and Their Associated Property and / or Evidence. This adoption was decided at the 61st Ordinary Session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government on 3 July 2022, in Accra, Ghana. According to the ECOWAS communiqué, the purpose of this initiative is to further strengthen the gains made in securing the region’s maritime domain from acts of piracy. The Act serves to facilitate the transfer of piracy suspects and the associated property and/or evidence to member states with the appropriate legal framework to ensure ‘legal finish’ with the prosecution of piracy, while ensuring compliance with applicable international human rights law, including the treatment of suspected or transferred persons, as well the inclusion of provision on death penalty to safeguard that no transferred person or persons are subjected to death sentence for acts of piracy. More information is available in a press release from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
COSIS: Support Vanuatu Initiative to Seek an ICJ Advisory Opinion on Climate Change
On 26 August 2022 the Commission of Small Island Developing States on Climate Change and International Law (current composition: Antigua and Barbuda, Tuvalu and Palau; previously reported) met virtually, including conferral with 14 appointed international experts and advisors (ACOSIS, Art. 2(3)) and approval of their recommendations in a “plan of action that is being developed”. COSIS may consider and request an advisory opinion from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ACOSIS, Art. 2(2)), but during the meeting COSIS decided to also express full support (ACOSIS, Arts 1(3), 2(1)) for the separate Vanuatu initiative to Seek an ICJ advisory opinion on climate change through a UN General Assembly request (previously reported). Finally, three COSIS working groups were established (ACOSIS, Art. 3(4)) to “advance the objectives of the Commission”. The focus of each working group is not defined, although 3 thematic topics are evident when reading ACOSIS Arts 1(3) and 2(1). For more information see the COSIS Press Release (2).
FAO: Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment
On 7 July 2022 the FAO Technical Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment adopted the Draft Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment (Appendix E of the Draft Report of the Technical Consultation on Voluntary Guidelines for Transshipment (FAO Doc. COFI/2022/INF/10). The Voluntary Guidelines will be presented to the Thirty-Fifth Session of the FAO Committee on Fisheries, 5-9 September 2022, for endorsement, after which they will become an international instrument under the FAO’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries framework. For more information see the FAO Press Release.
Ukraine/Türkiye/Russia: Black Sea Grain Initiative
On 22 July 2022 Ukraine, the Republic of Türkiye, and the Russian Federation signed the Initiative on the safe export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia, from Ukrainian ports (Black Sea Grain Initiative). The United Nations, represented by the UN Secretary-General, also signed as a witness. The text of the Black Sea Grain Initiative does not appear to be public, but as the Procedure for Merchant Vessels (August 2022) para. 3 details, the “purpose of this Initiative is to facilitate the safe navigation for the export of foodstuffs and fertilizers, including ammonia from the Ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk (Chornomorsk) and Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) (the Ukrainian ports)”. Within their scope of application, the rules of procedure apply as conditions of port entry or departure for said ports. On 27 July 2022 a Joint Coordination Centre (JCC) was officially inaugurated in Istanbul, comprising representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation, Türkiye and the United Nations to facilitate the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The JCC “will monitor the movement of commercial vessels to ensure compliance with the initiative; focus on exporting bulk commercial grain and related food commodities only; ensure the on-site control and monitoring of cargo from Ukrainian ports; and report on shipments facilitated through the initiative”. As of 11 August 2022, it appears that 12 vessels have thereby departed Ukrainian ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative following the unlawful use of force by Russia (UNGA Resolution ES-11/1 Aggression against Ukraine) and the impact of the conflict on grain and agricultural exports. According to a Russian Statement, the Black Sea Grain Initiative will run for 120 days, with options to renew by 120 days with the agreement of all parties.
Concurrently, on 22 July 2022 Russia and the United Nations signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations on promoting the access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets. According to a Russian Statement, the MoU on Russian exports of agricultural products will remain valid for 3 years.
For more information see the JCC website.
Filed under International Organizations, State Practice, Treaties
Compilation of textual proposals for consideration at fifth session of IGC on BBNJ Agreement
Accompanying the previously reported Further Revised Draft Text of A BBNJ Agreement, the President of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) invited delegations to submit by 25 July 2022 textual proposals for consideration at the fifth session. The secretariat (DOLAS) was requested to produce a compilation of proposals received by that deadline (A/CONF.232/2022/5, para 12). On 1 August 2022 DOLAS released an article-by-article compilation (A/CONF.232/2022/INF.5), entitled, Textual proposals submitted by delegations by 25 July 2022, for consideration at the fifth session of the Intergovernmental conference on 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 (the Conference), in response to the invitation by the President of the Conference in her Note of 1 June 2022 (A/CONF.232/2022/5).
For more information see the documents page for the fifth substantive session.
Filed under International Organizations, State Practice, Treaties
UNGA: The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment
On 28 July 2022 the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) passed a Resolution, entitled, The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (161 votes in favour; China, Russian Federation, Belarus, Cambodia, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan and Ethiopia abstaining). Relevant paragraphs include:
1. Recognizes the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right;
3. Affirms that the promotion of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment requires the full implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements under the principles of international environmental law;UN Doc. A/76/L.75 (26 July 2022)
For more information see the UN press release and the preceding United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution 48/13.
IGC President’s Further Revised Draft Text of A BBNJ Agreement
Pursuant to General Assembly Decision 76/564 (24 March 2022) a fifth session of the intergovernmental conference on 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 will be convened 15–26 August 2022. On differences of opinion among states on whether the fifth session will be the final session to conclude an agreement see here.
The previously reported revised draft text of an agreement prepared by the President of the Conference, and previously reported textual proposals were considered at the fourth session (7-18 March 2022). The President of the Conference was requested to prepare a further revised draft text of an agreement, taking into account (1) the work of the fourth session, (2) delegation proposals in conference room papers during the fourth session, (3) proposals sent up until 31 March 2022. On 30 May 2022 the President of the Conference [Rena Lee (Singapore)] released an advanced version of the further revised draft text, entitled, Further revised draft text of an agreement 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. Delegations are given until 25 July 2022 to submit further textual proposals for consideration at the fifth session of the conference. It is expected the President of the Conference will once again publish a compilation of proposals submitted by the deadline in advance of the opening of the fifth session. Delegations will also be able to submit proposals during the fifth session itself.
WTO: Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies adopted
The World Trade Organization (WTO) adopted the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, to be inserted in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization via an amendment (see previous De Maribus report). The decision to adopt this agreement was reached on 17 June 2022 at the WTO Twelfth Ministerial Conference. The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies includes rules prohibiting subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing (Article 3), to the fishing of overfished stocks (Article 4), and to fishing on the high seas outside the control of regional fisheries management organizations (Article 5). See the text of the agreement (reference WT/MIN(22)/W/22). Access the draft text and explanatory note here. Access the chair’s full statement here. See also the press release from the WTO on the “Geneva Package”.
IMO: Mediterranean Sea SOx ECA approved
The 78th session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 78) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which convened on 6-10 June 2022, approved the designation of the Mediterranean Sea Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides and Particulate Matter (Med SOx ECA) under regulation 14 of Annex VI to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). The formal designation of the Med SOx ECA will be put forward for adoption at the 79th session of MEPC due to take place on 12-16 December 2022. MEPC 78 granted its approval after considering the joint and coordinated proposal to designate the Mediterranean Sea, as a whole, as an Emission Control Area for Sulphur Oxides, which was submitted by all Mediterranean coastal States, along with all Member States of the European Union, and the European Commission. The submission of this proposal was agreed in December 2021 within the framework of the Mediterranean Action Plan of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP/MAP) at COP 22 of the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment and the Coastal Region of the Mediterranean (Barcelona Convention). The amendment could enter into force in mid-2024, with the new limit taking effect from 2025. See IMO press release and UNEP press release.
BS MoU: Interim Guidance on Repatriation of Seafarers due to the Conflict in Ukraine published
The Secretariat of the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Black Sea Region (BS MoU), have agreed on an interim guidance on the issue of repatriation of Ukrainian seafarers, creating a common approach for implementing inspection activities in respect to the repatriation of seafarers. Inter alia, the document encourages Port State Cntrol Officers to show “flexibility” and adopt a “pragmatic approach”, all the while considering that the port State should be assured that seafarers with certificates of competency and associated documentation issued by Ukraine might face difficulties when seeking their renewal. This Interim Guidance on Repatriation of Seafarers due to the Conflict in Ukraine published 10 May 2022 by the BS MoU is available here. A press release from BS MoU dated 19 April 2022 is here.
UNGA: High-Level Commemorative Meeting on 40th Anniversary of UNCLOS
On 29 April 2022 the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly held an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), entitled, Informal meeting of the plenary to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (programme). The event was convened followed a request from the delegations of Denmark, Grenada, Kenya, Portugal and Singapore.
On 30 April 1982, following a request for a recorded vote by the USA, the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea adopted UNCLOS by 130 votes (in favour) to 4 (against), with 17 abstentions (A/CONF.62/SR.182, paras. 26-28, subject to drafting changes and with 2 delegations not participating in the vote). UNCLOS was formally adopted and opened for signature on 10 December 1982 (A/CONF.62/122).
EU: Prohibition on Access to Port for Russian Flagged Vessels
On 8 April 2022 the Council of the European Union adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/578, as well as the corresponding regulatory action to ensure uniform application in all Member States (Recital 10), Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576. Council Decision (CFSP) 2022/578 introduced, among other measures, prohibitions on access to EU ports of vessels registered under the flag of Russia and recently reflagged (24 February 2022) vessels formerly registered under the flag of Russia (Article 1(18); inserting Article 4ha into Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP). Article 1(11) of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576 therefore inserts Article 3ea into Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014, whereby:
1. It shall be prohibited to provide access after 16 April 2022 to ports in the territory of the Union to any vessel registered under the flag of Russia.
2. Paragraph 1 shall apply to vessels that have changed their Russian flag or their registration, to the flag or register of any other State after 24 February 2022.
3. For the purposes of this Article, a vessel means:
(a) a ship falling within the scope of the relevant international conventions;
(b) a yacht, of 15 metres in length or more, which does not carry cargo and carrying no more than 12 passengers; or
(c) recreational craft or personal watercraft as defined in Directive 2013/53/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council.
4. Paragraph 1 shall not apply in the case of a vessel in need of assistance seeking a place of refuge, of an emergency port call for reasons of maritime safety, or for saving life at sea.
5. By way of derogation from paragraph 1, the competent authorities may authorise a vessel to access a port, under such conditions as they deem appropriate, after having determined that the access is necessary for:
(a) the purchase, import or transport into the Union of natural gas and oil, including refined petroleum products, titanium, aluminium, copper, nickel, palladium and iron ore, as well as certain chemical and iron products as listed in Annex XXIV;
(b) the purchase, import or transport of pharmaceutical, medical, agricultural and food products, including wheat and fertilisers whose import, purchase and transport is allowed under this Regulation;
(c) humanitarian purposes;
(d) transport of nuclear fuel and other goods strictly necessary for the functioning of civil nuclear capabilities; or
(e) the purchase, import or transport into the Union of coal and other solid fossil fuels, as listed in Annex XXII until 10 August 2022.
6. The Member State concerned shall inform the other Member States and the Commission of any authorisation granted under paragraph 5 within two weeks of the authorisationArticle 1(11) of Council Regulation (EU) 2022/576 (footnotes omitted)
For more information see the Council of the EU press release and Official Journal of the European Union, L 111, 8 April 2022.
EU: Member of North Pacific Fisheries Commission
On 23 March 2022 the European Union (EU) became a Member of the North Pacific Fisheries Commission (NPFC), having acceded to the Convention for the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean. As required for accession under Article 24(2) of the NPFC Convention, existing Members reached consensus on inviting the EU to accede at the 6th Meeting of the NPFC (23-25 February 2021) (COM06 Report, para. 8). The NPFC was unable to reach consensus on the EU’s previous 2018 and 2019 requests to join, and the EU’s 2020 request was not considered due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of NPFC Meeting. Some Members expressed concerns over EU fishing activities in the Convention Area, proposing conditions thereof (COM06 Report, para. 10; Annex D). For more information see here and here.
ROK/Mexico: Proposal to amend 1996 London Protocol – sewage sludge dumping prohibition
On 25 March 2022, the Republic of Korea and Mexico submitted a Proposal to amend Annex 1 to the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes or other Matter, 1972 to remove sewage sludge from the list of wastes or other matter that may be considered for dumping (LC44/10, annexed to Circular Letter No. 4539). The amendment is proposed under Article 21 of the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Protocol) and would entail the deletion of sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes in Annex 1 of the London Protocol.
If the amendment is adopted, Article 4(1) of the London Protocol will apply to sewage sludge whereby:
Contracting Parties shall prohibit the dumping of any wastes or other matter with the exception of those listed in Annex 1.London Protocol, Article 4(1).
Note, the governing bodies at the previous Meeting of Parties (43rd London Convention/16th London Protocol) in October 2021 agreed “that there was sufficient evidence and justification for amending Annex 1 to remove sewage sludge from the list of permissible wastes” and “invited a Contracting Party or Parties to the London Protocol to propose an amendment to Annex 1 of the London Protocol to remove sewage sludge from the list of wastes or other matter that could be considered for dumping” (LC 43/17, paras. 10.16-10.24). The proposal is submitted for consideration and adoption at the 17th London Protocol Meeting of Contracting Parties (3-7 October 2022). For more information see the IMO press release.
ISA/IORA: MoU on Cooperation in Areas of Common Interest
On 18 March 2022, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the Secretary-General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) signed the Memorandum of understanding between the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the International Seabed Authority which aims to “provide a framework of cooperation and facilitate collaboration […] in the areas of common interest” (para. 1). This follows approval of the MoU by the IORA Member States (16 April 2020) and the Council of the ISA (10 December 2021) (ISBA/26/C/13/Add.1, para. 36). Such arrangements on consultation and cooperation by the ISA with international and non-governmental organizations is initiated by the Secretary-General of the ISA by virtue of the competence found in Article 169(1) of UNCLOS. As per Article 169(2) of UNCLOS, IORA now “may designate representatives to attend meetings of the organs of the Authority as observers” and “procedures shall be established for obtaining the views of [IORA] in appropriate cases”.
Areas of co-operation in the MoU, to implement through supplement arrangements (para. 3), include:
(a) To consult, where appropriate and practical, on matters of mutual interest with a view to promoting or enhancing a better understanding and coordination of their respective activities in respect of such matters;Memorandum of understanding between the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the International Seabed Authority, para. 2 (ISBA/26/C/16, Annex)
(b) To develop joint capacity-building programmes related to seabed exploration, legal and policy formulation, and environmental management planning;
(c) To cooperate, where appropriate and practical, for the sharing and managing of information and non-confidential data related to offshore hydrocarbon and seabed mineral deposits;
(d) To promote, where appropriate, exchange of information and sharing of technologies related to seabed exploration and mining;
(e) To promote and encourage marine scientific research.
See further the ISA press release.
IMO: Council Decisions on Situation in Black Sea & Sea of Azov
From 10-11 March 2022 the IMO Council virtually held its 35th Extraordinary Session (C/ES.35), addressing, the impacts on shipping and seafarers of the situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The IMO Council made decisions on the situation, including: condemnation of “the Russian Federation’s violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of a United Nations Member State, extending to its territorial waters” as inconsistent with the UN Charter and the purposes of IMO as set forth in Article 1 of the IMO Convention; deploring “attacks of the Russian Federation aimed at commercial vessels” threatening maritime safety and the marine environment; and recalling “Ukraine must be afforded, without delay, all its rights in regard to the implementation of the instruments adopted within the framework of this Organization, as a flag State, port State and coastal State”. Decisions of the IMO Council also included the encouragement of “the establishment, as a provisional and urgent measure, of a blue safe maritime corridor” and the welcoming of a series of proposals to support seafarers, directed at coastal states, port states, transit states and states of nationality.
Arctic Council: 7 Members Temporarily Pause Participation
On 3 March 2022, Canada, the Kingdom of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the United States issued a joint statement, entitled, Joint Statement on Arctic Council Cooperation Following Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine, stating “our representatives will not travel to Russia for meetings of the Arctic Council. Additionally, our states are temporarily pausing participation in all meetings of the Council and its subsidiary bodies, pending consideration of the necessary modalities that can allow us to continue the Council’s important work in view of the current circumstances”.
UK/EU/Canada: entry into port banned for Russian vessels
The United Kingdom (UK) banned Russian owned, operated, controlled, chartered, registered or flagged ships from entering UK ports. The ban entered into force on 1 March 2022 (see The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2022 here and here). See also the UK Department of Transport‘s press release.
The European Parliament adopted on 1 March 2022 a resolution (2022/2564(RSP)) calling for ports of European Union (EU) Member-States to block Russian vessels from entering. This call specifies that the ban should include “ships whose last or next port of call is in the Russian Federation, except in the case of necessary justified humanitarian reasons”.
Canada is also preparing to ban Russian vessels from entering its ports. A press release from the Government of Canada on the matter can be found here .
UNEP: resolution on binding legal instrument for plastic pollution adopted
The United Nations Environment Assembly of the United Nations Environment Programme adopted on 2 March 2022 a resolution deciding that “the intergovernmental negotiating committee is to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, which could include both binding and voluntary approaches“. The resolution, entitled “End Plastic Pollution: Towards an internationally legally binding instrument”, was adopted with the conclusion of the three-day UNEA-5.2 meeting. More information is available here and here. A draft version of the resolution can be read here.
EU: new legislative proposal on illegal discharges from ships under preparation
The European Commission (executive branch of the European Union) is preparing a new legislative proposal revising the Ship-Source Pollution Directive, a common framework outlining how to deal with illegal discharges from ships. This initiative aims at preventing marine pollution by ensuring that any natural or legal persons responsible for the discharge of polluting substances into EU waters are subject to adequate penalties. A public consultation is ongoing, divided into two sections: the first gathers views from citizens and the second targets experts and relevant stakeholders. The consultation is open until 3 March 2022. More information is available here.
Filed under International Organizations, Surveys
Eritrea: Written Notice of IOTC Agreement Withdrawal
On 5 January 2022, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Secretariat issued IOTC Circular 2022-01, which includes a Communication (dated, 3 January 2022) from the the Government of the State of Eritrea on its intention to withdraw “its membership in the IOTC indefinitely as of the beginning of the year 2022”. Eritrea states it has “neither been an active member of the organisation nor did it honoured its financial obligations during the last 20 some years due to unfair, unfounded and unjustified sanctions imposed upon it”. Article XXI(1) of the IOTC Agreement provides that “Withdrawal shall become effective at the end of the calendar year following that in which the notice of withdrawal has been received by the Director- General” (i.e., 2023, unless the Commission makes a determination under Article IV(4)).
UNGA: Annual Resolutions Adopted on Law of the Sea & Sustainable Fisheries
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted two resolutions on the 9 December 2021, Resolution 76/72: Oceans and the law of the sea and Resolution 76/71: Sustainable fisheries, including through the 1995 Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and related instruments.
Argentina stressed that certain recommendations contained in Resolution 76/72 cannot be considered as applying to states not parties to the 1994 Implementing Agreement, while Turkey voted against adoption, considering Turkey’s consistent objection to the view that UNCLOS has a “universal and unified character” (131 in favour to 1 against (Turkey) with 4 abstentions (Colombia, El Salvador, Nigeria, Venezuela)). Colombia, El Savador and Venezuela also distanced themselves from the universal nature of UNCLOS as non-parties to UNCLOS. Resolution 76/71 was adopted by consensus without a vote. Discussions (2) leading up to adoption include the position of state representatives on numerous topics, with the impacts of sea-level rise, plastic pollution, the South China Sea and discharges in the Fukushima area arising on several occasions.
Vacancies: ICJ Judicial Fellowship Programme 2022-2023
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is currently seeking applications for the 2022-2023 Judicial Fellowship Programme of the International Court of Justice. Normally up to 15 applicants are accepted per year for the full-time (10 month) Judicial Fellow positions. Submissions are welcome until 13 February 2022, but only from nominating universities and not individuals. For more information see here. To see the cases currently pending before the ICJ, including numerous law of the sea cases, see here.
Filed under International Organizations, Vacancies
Antigua and Barbuda/Tuvalu: Accord to Establish Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change & International Law
On 1 November 2021, Prime Minister Gaston Browne (Antigua and Barbuda) and Prime Minister Kausea Natano (Tuvalu) announced the signing of an Accord on 31 October 2021 which establishes a Commission of Small Island Developing States on Climate Change and International Law. The Commission is open to all small island states globally to join. During the Press Conference, the founding members signalled that the Accord authorises the Commission to request an advisory opinion from ITLOS concerning climate change, sea-level rise, protection of the marine environment and international responsibilities. The exact strategy, including potential questions to be put before ITLOS, are to be developed by the Commission. On the advisory opinion jurisdiction of ITLOS, see Articles 16 and 21 of the Statute of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Annex VI of UNCLOS); Article 138 of the Rules of the Tribunal; and the SRFC Advisory Opinion.
ITLOS: Junior Professional Officer Programme
As of 30 September 2021, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has established a Junior Professional Officer Programme for young professionals to serve in the Tribunal’s Registry, including the Legal Office. The Guidelines concerning the Junior Professional Officer Programme of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea will govern the programme, which includes the necessity of concluding a memoranda of understanding between the Tribunal and a participating (sponsoring) State for the recruitment of Junior Professional Officer(s) (see Model MoU).
Filed under International Organizations, Vacancies
OSPAR: Designation of North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area
On 1 October 2021, OSPAR held a hybrid ministerial meeting hosted by the Government of Portugal (postponed from June 2020 due to the pandemic), the outcomes of which included a legally binding OSPAR Decision to establish the North Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea basin Marine Protected Area (NACES MPA). The NACES MPA (595,196 square km) is established in the high seas and seeks to protect a vitally important area for seabirds. For more information see here and here.
For other developments at OSPAR Ministerial 2021, including the adoption of the North-East Altantic Environment Strategy 2030, see here.
Ecuador: Preliminary Information submission to CLCS
On 20 September 2021 Ecuador submitted, in respect of three regions, its Preliminary information indicative of the outer limits of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). For more information see here.