The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has extended until 5 October 2018 its authorization for Member States to intercept vessels suspected of being used for smuggling migrants through Libya. By unanimously adopting resolution 2380 (2017), the UNSC extended the authorization for a third one-year period, the first having been established by resolution 2240 (previously reported here). The UNSC stressed that its authorization of those measures would require good-faith efforts to obtain the consent of the vessel’s flag State prior to any action, and would not supersede sovereign immunity under international law. More information is available here.
Category Archives: International Organizations
The World Bank approved a package of over $20 million for the Republic of the Seychelles to improve the conservation of its marine resources and expand seafood value chains. The package consists of a loan of $5 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and a grant of $5.29 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In addition, a guarantee of EUR5 million from the IBRD and a credit of $5 million from the GEF’s Non-Grant Instrument Pilot will enable the future issuance of the world’s first Blue Bond by Seychelles. The Blue Bond is expected to mobilize public and private investments to finance the country’s transition to sustainable fisheries. More information on this package is available here.
Today is World Maritime Day! The theme selected for this year is “Connecting Ships, Ports and People”. The aim is to build on the World Maritime Day theme for 2016, “Shipping: indispensable to the world”. More information on the events taking place at the IMO in London is available here. Information about the parallel event, to be held in Panama on 1-3 October 2017, is available here.
The International Seabed Authority annual session was held, 31 July-4 August 2017 for the Legal & Technical Commission and 7-18 August 2017 for the 23rd Session, at ISA headquarters (Kingston, Jamaica).
States have agreed to recommend to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) elements to be considered in the development of a new treaty on marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). A Preparatory Committee was tasked with advising the UNGA on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under the UNCLOS. It recommended that the UNGA take a decision, as soon as possible, on the convening of an intergovernmental conference to consider the recommendations on the elements and elaborate the text of a treaty. The UNGA is to decide at its next session on the convening and starting date of an intergovernmental conference to elaborate on a treaty. More information is available here.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has agreed, during its 71st session, to an implementation schedule for ships to comply with the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention, set to enter into force on 8 September 2017. More information about this agreement may be found here.
Significant amendments adopted in 2007 to the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Convention (NAFO), Convention on Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, entered into force on the 18 May 2017. In practice, many of the obligations have already been provisionally applied.
The Second Intergovernmental Consultations on UN Ocean Conference Call for Action was held 24-27 April 2017, at UN Headquarters (New York, USA). The first round was held 20-22 March 2017 and the third round is anticipated to be the final.
A report of the outstanding issues identified during consultation is available on the SDG Knowledge Hub website. For more information on the event and the Draft Call for Action discussed, see the letter of the co-facilitators.
The European Commission (EC) decided to refer Portugal to the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) for failing to respect its obligations as a flag state. The EC issued two separate referrals to the CJEU concerning flag state requirements on one hand (Article 8(1) of Directive 2009/21/EC), and monitoring and reporting activities of its recognised organisations on the other hand (Directive 2009/15/EC). The EC had already requested Portugal to comply with these Directives in September 2016 (flag state requirements) and July 2016 (monitoring and reporting). More information is available in this press release.
The first working version of the Information System of the Global Record for Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels (Global Record) was launched 21 April 2017. This follows a number of progressive calls for its development and noted benefits for e.g. the Port State Measures Agreement.
Workshop: Marine Mineral Resources of Africa’s Continental Shelf and Adjacent International Seabed Area
A workshop on Marine Mineral Resources of Africa’s Continental Shelf and Adjacent International Seabed Area – Prospects for Sustainable Development of Africa’s Maritime Domain, in support of Africa’s Blue Economy, will be held in Kampala, Uganda from 2 to 4 May 2017. The workshop is jointly organized by the Republic of Uganda and the International Seabed Authority. It will discuss and propose mechanisms for improving regional cooperation and participation of African countries in the deep seabed regime. In particular, it will address special interests of landlocked African countries. More information available here.
As previously reported, the United Nations (UN) is hosting the Oceans Conference in June this year, to support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14. In preparation for that meeting, the UN Oceans Action Hub is hosting a set of open online discussions. The current one is about the implementation of international law as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. This online debate is open to contributions between 3 – 21 April 2017 and can be joined here.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) Governing Body adopted a decision at its 329th Session based upon a Committee report in respect of non-observance by Thailand of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29). The focus of the report is in respect of fisheries carried out under Thailand’s flag state jurisdiction and responsibility.
A workshop on the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Environmental Management Strategy for the Area will be held in Berlin, Germany from 19-24 March 2017. The workshop aims to assist the Authority in developing a long-term Environmental Management Strategy for the Area. It will deal with governance issues such as overarching principles, regional planning and adaptive management. The outcome of the workshop should provide a first structured and interdisciplinary input on the draft Environmental Regulations taking into account the deliberations by the Legal and Technical Committee in February 2017. More information available here.
To support the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, The Ocean Conference, will be held 5-9 June 2017, at United Nations Headquarters (New York, USA). A preparatory meeting will be held 14-16 February 2017, at United Nations Headquarters (New York, USA). Both events will include side events, but participation is limited.
The Fleet Register is a database where all the fishing vessels flying the flag of a European Union (EU) member state have to be registered in accordance with Community legislation. Updates to the EU’s fleet register will soon be available in real time, following the adoption of a new regulation by the European Commission. The regulation makes it easier for EU member states to update the fleet register, while giving the Commission the necessary tools to crosscheck the data that member states submit. The new regulation enters into force on 1 February 2018, and applies to all commercial fishing vessels, except aquaculture vessels and blue fin tuna traps. More information available here.
A high-level meeting of signatories to the Djibouti Code of Conduct (DCOC), held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has adopted a revised Code of Conduct, which will be known as the “Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct 2017”. The revised code of conduct builds on the earlier Code, which was adopted under the auspices of IMO in 2009. The Jeddah Amendment calls on the signatory States to cooperate to the fullest possible extent to repress transnational organized crime in the maritime domain, maritime terrorism, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and other illegal activities at sea. More information on this meeting can be found here.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed the 2 May as the “World Tuna Day”, spotlighting the vital socioeconomic importance of the widely consumed fish to peoples around the globe. The Assembly then adopted another resolution by consensus, titled “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” (document A/71/L.24). More information in the UN’s press release.
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will hold its second international conference on Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) at UNESCO headquarters in Paris (France) from 15-17 March 2017. The conference is being jointly organised with the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG-MARE) of the European Commission. More information is available here.
All member states of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) have agreed to a joint USA/New Zealand proposal to establish a 1.55 million km2 area of the Ross Sea with special protection from human activities. This new MPA, to come into force in December 2017, will limit, or entirely prohibit, certain activities in order to meet specific conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring and fisheries management objectives. More information is available here.
The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has communicated its recommendation for the establishment of the outer limits of the Uruguayan continental shelf. According to a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, this recommendation implies “a territorial extension for Uruguay of approximately 83.000 sq km, encompassing all its continental margin and allowing to establish what has been called the country’s final frontier at 350 nautical miles”. The statement can be found here, together with the following map:
Reference to the PCA, South China Sea Arbitration Award of 12 July 2016, was dropped from the communique issued by the first meeting of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) foreign ministers since the issue of the Award, following objection by Cambodia. The communique and joint-statement emphasize the peaceful settlement of disputes, and reaffirm the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
See the Joint Communiqué of the 49th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the Joint Statement of the Foreign Ministers of ASEAN Member States and China on the Full and Effective Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.
IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has confirmed that ship construction rules for oil tankers and bulk carriers submitted by 12 classification societies conform to the goals and functional requirements set by the Organization for new oil tankers and bulk carriers. This marks a significant new development in how international standards for ship construction are determined and implemented. For the first time, IMO has been given a role in auditing and verifying the structural rules developed by the classification societies for new-build oil tankers and bulk carriers. More information can be found here.
The Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has approved mandatory requirements for ships to record and report their fuel consumption.The draft mandatory data collection requirements will be put forward for adoption at the 70th MEPC session in October this year and could enter into force in 2018. The data collection system is enshrined in draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which were approved by the 69th session of the MEPC, meeting at IMO Headquarters in London this week (18 to 22 April). More information on the matter available here.
On the 2 March 2016 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2270, Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This contains a number of port state and flag state obligations, of particular note see paragraphs 18, 22, and, 19, 20, 29-31, respectively. Media reports suggest China has already barred a North Korean vessel’s entry to the port of Rizhao.
The UNSC Resolution can be found here.
Updated guidelines for the application of the de minimis (exempt) concept for radioactive substances which may be considered for dumping at sea have been adopted. The 2015 Guidelines for the application of the de minimis concept include recognition of effects of radiation on marine fauna and flora. They were adopted by the 37th Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties (London Convention 1972) and 10th Meeting of Contracting Parties (London Protocol 1996), which were meeting for their regular joint meeting at IMO in London. More information can be found here.
The secretariat of the Tokyo Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control has announced that, following an acceptation procedure, the Republic of Panama and the Republic of Peru have been accepted as full members of the organization. More information on this can be found here.
The United Nations Security Council adopted on 9 October a resolution authorizing states to exercise exceptional powers with respect to ships suspected of being engaged in human trafficking and migrant smuggling on the high seas off the costs of Libya. The resolution can be found here.
Today is the World Maritime Day 2015, dedicated to the theme “Maritime education and training”.
As we can learn from the UN website, the theme was adopted to focus attention on the wider spectrum of maritime education and training, in particular its adequacy and quality, as the bedrock of a safe and secure shipping industry, which needs to preserve the quality, practical skills and competence of qualified human resources, in order to ensure its sustainability.
The IMO is holding a symposium on “Shipping’s future needs people: Is global maritime education and training on course?” Speakers from the shipping and maritime industry and academia will address three sessions, covering (1) Opportunities for the young generation in the maritime industry (2) Seafaring as a profession and (3) Developing seafarer skills through quality maritime education and training. More information on this event can be found here.
At the 16th meeting of the Port State Control Committee in Batumi, Georgia, April 2015, the Memorandum of Understanding on Port State Control in the Black Sea Region decided to introduce a New Inspection Regime for selection of ships from 1st January 2016 to harmonize further its risk based targeting and inspection system with the leading memorandas, namely Paris MOU and Tokyo MOU, to the highest level. More information is available in their press release. An information sheet on the upcoming developments has also been made available.
The Russian Federation has submitted its revised information on the outer limits of its continental shelf beyond 200nm, in respect of the Arctic Ocean (2nd August, 2015). The submission was made in accordance with UNCLOS, art. 76(8) and is in respect to an area previously covered in the first Submission of the Russian Federation (December 2001), considered at the 11th session of the Commission from 24 to 28 June 2002.
The European Commission is holding an ongoing public consultation (4th June – 15th September 2015), aimed at gathering stakeholder input into ‘how the EU could contribute to achieving better international governance of oceans and seas to the benefit of sustainable blue growth‘. The results will be combined with other sources to ‘develop a more coherent, comprehensive and effective EU policy on improving the international ocean governance framework’.
The Zero draft of the outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda, has been released ahead of the United Nations Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda which will be held 25-27th September 2015, New York. Of note for those interested in the law of the sea is the proposed sustainable development goal 14.
The document may be found here.
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, has concluded its final meeting (20-23 January 2015) by adopting a number of recommendations to the UN General Assembly. Of particular note the UN General Assembly should “[d]ecide 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”.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted the International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (Polar Code), and related amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to make it mandatory, marking an historic milestone in the Organization’s work to protect ships and people aboard them, both seafarers and passengers, in the harsh environment of the waters surrounding the two poles. The continuation of this official press release can be found here.
A key step on the way to a mandatory Polar Code for ships operating in Arctic and Antarctic waters has been reached with the approval by the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) of the environmental provisions in the draft International Code for Ships Operating in Polar Waters (the Polar Code), together with associated draft amendments to the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), to make the Code mandatory. You can follow this update in more detail on the IMO website
Judge Golitsyn (Russian Federation) was elected as President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and Judge Bouguetaia (Algeria) as Vice-President for the period 2014–2017 by the members of the Tribunal. (press release).
In further news: Mr Alonso Gómez-Robledo Verduzco (Mexico) and Mr Tomas Heidar (Iceland) were sworn in as members of the Tribunal. The two judges were elected at the twenty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to serve a term of nine years, commencing on 1 October 2014. (press release).
The 69th United Nations General Assembly convened on the 16th September 2014, with the General Debate being held 24-30th September 2014 (UN Coverage). The opening of the General Debate on the 24th September marked the beginning of the intergovernmental negotiations on the future Sustainable Development Goals – which will expand on their predecessor: the Millennium Development Goals. The basis for negotiations, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals Outcome Document, currently includes:
Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
For further coverage, please follow the IISD Reporting Services.
The draft International Code of Safety for Ships using Gases or other Low flashpoint Fuels (IGF Code), along with proposed amendments to make the Code mandatory under SOLAS, were agreed by the inaugural session of the Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers (CCC 1). The basic philosophy of the IGF Code is to provide mandatory provisions for the arrangement, installation, control and monitoring of machinery, equipment and systems using low flashpoint fuels, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), to minimize the risk to the ship, its crew and the environment, having regard to the nature of the fuels involved. More on this can be found here.
The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea held its tenth regional workshop on 8 August 2014 in Nairobi, Kenya, on ‘The role of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in the settlement of disputes relating to the law of the sea in Eastern and Southern Africa’. The workshop was organized in cooperation with the Korea Maritime Institute (KMI) and with the assistance of Kenyan authorities. More information available in the ITLOS press release.
New requirements under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to require all ships to have plans and procedures to recover persons from the water are among a set of SOLAS amendments entering into force on 1 July 2014. More information 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.
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.
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.
The fifteenth meeting of the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will take place between the 27-30 May, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters. The topic of the meeting is “the role of seafood in global food security”. More information on this meeting, and all previous meetings is available here.