Today an informal working group was convened to discuss the feasibility of an international instrument that would clarify existing legal gaps in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. While all delegations recognize both the need and the opportunity to address issues such as ocean acidification, unsafe fishing practices, and marine pollution, problems arose in discussions over the equitable use of marine genetic resources, the transparency of technology transfer, and the feasibility of such a comprehensive instrument.
Many countries agreed on the practicality of this instrument, stating that under the correct parameters, a consensus could be reached. The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago stated that if they are able to identify a government structure to control the assistance of states in their implementation of the agreed upon regulations, the instrument would be possible. The Representative from the United States, however, was one of the few dissenters, as he remained unconvinced of the need for a new international agreement. He stated that coordination and cooperation through existing bodies was a more cost effective and practical solution to the issues present.
The Representative of Trinidad and Tobago also discussed the need for equitable distribution of marine resources in areas not covered by national jurisdiction, stating that the resources belong to neither the US nor the EU, but instead “are the common heritage of mankind.” In response, the US Representative expressed concern about this proposed benefit sharing regime. It was his belief that the transaction costs of implementing such a program would be so high as to impede the actual research itself, thus doing more harm to all countries involved. The Representative of Cuba addressed the issue of transparency, expressing the belief that it should be universal. Those beliefs were echoed by Representatives from the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, as they all believe that this proposed instrument could facilitate access and transfer of marine technology to all states.
Meeting Title: 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
Speakers: Representative of Algeria; Representative of New Zealand; Representative of the Dominican Republic; Representative of Guatemala; Representative of Ecuador; Representative of Trinidad and Tobago; Representative of Costa Rica; Representative of the United States; Representative of Iceland; Representative of Cuba
Location: Conference Room 1, United Nations HQ, New York
Date: 18 June 2014
Written By WIT Representative: Zachary Halliday
Edited by WIT Representative: Marli Kasdan