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Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity

On March 25, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, gave an opening statement at the second session of the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, taking place at United Nations headquarters in New York.

In his statement, Archbishop Auza said that the main objective of the legally binding instrument on the conversation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction is to improve existing legal instruments and frameworks by coordinating, reconciling and supplementing them in such a way that it would preclude the need to regularly renegotiate. He pointed out five legal gaps the Holy See hopes will be remedied: a foundational gap to base decisions on environmental impact assessments and area based management tools; a jurisdictional gap since areas beyond national jurisdiction are not under the control of any State; a legal applicability gap, detailing the legal relationship of and between States, the proponents of activities, the activities themselves and regulatory bodies; an economic gap describing how to cover the enormous costs in implementing procedural, compliance and enforcement measures; and a gap concerning what the phrases “common heritage of mankind” and “freedom of the high seas” mean, which must be clarified. He also called attention to the need to focus on helping the Small Island Developing States, to ensure that conservation and management measures actually help them.

The statement can be found here.