BBNJ Working Group Concludes Mandate, Agrees on Nature of Future Instrument
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Delegates at the ninth meeting of 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 (BBNJ) reached consensus on the legally binding nature of a future agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

BBNJ23 January 2015: Delegates at the ninth meeting of 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 (BBNJ) reached consensus on the legally binding nature of a future agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Delegates agreed on recommendations for a decision to be taken at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) to develop a new legally binding instrument on BBNJ under UNCLOS. Delegates also reached consensus on a negotiating process, by establishing a preparatory meeting to make recommendations on elements of a draft text of a legally binding instrument to the UNGA in 2017 and for the UNGA to decide at its 72nd session whether to convene an intergovernmental conference to elaborate the text of the agreement. This decision effectively concludes the mandate of the Working Group.

In its decision, the Working Group recommends to the UNGA that it, inter alia: decide to develop an international legally binding instrument on BBNJ under UNCLOS and to that end, prior to holding an intergovernmental conference, decide to establish a PrepCom to make substantive recommendations to the UNGA on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument, taking into account the reports of the Co-Chairs on the work of the Working Group, with the PrepCom starting its work in 2016 and reporting its progress to the UNGA by the end of 2017; and decide on the convening and on the start date for an intergovernmental conference to consider the PrepCom’s recommendations and elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS before the end of its 72nd session.

The Working Group further recommends to the UNGA that it decide, inter alia, that the negotiations shall address the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011 on the conservation and sustainable use of BBNJ in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources (MGRs), including benefit-sharing questions, measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs), environmental impact assessments (EIAs), capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.

Over 200 participants attended the meeting, which convened from 20-23 January 2015 at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The meeting was the last of three meetings (April 2014, June 2014 and January 2015) convened by the UN General Assembly through its resolution 68/70 to discuss the scope, parameters and feasibility of a possible new international instrument on marine BBNJ under UNCLOS. [IISD RS coverage of ninth BBNJ Working Group Meeting] [CBD Statement to the Working Group] [Recommendations of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group, 23 January 2015][Policy Update on BBNJ process]


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