IGC Agrees Organizational Matters, Discusses Zero Draft Preparation
UN Photo/Rick Bajornas
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The organizational meeting for the Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (IGC) elected a President and agreed on the composition of a bureau and the organization of work.

Delegates also agreed on the preparation of a document to guide discussions at IGC-1.

20 April 2018: Delegates recently met to discuss preparations for the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on a legally binding instrument on use of high seas biodiversity. The organizational meeting discussed the process for preparing a zero draft of the instrument, established the format for the first session of the IGC, agreed on rules of procedure, and established a bureau and credential committee, among other decisions.

The organizational meeting of the ‘Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction’ took place from 16-18 April 2018. In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) decided to convene the IGC, under the auspices of the UN, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible.

Delegates agreed to address the four elements of the 2011 package in the substantive discussions at IGC-1, as mandated by resolution 72/249. These elements are: marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits; measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs); environmental impact assessments (EIAs); and capacity building and the transfer of marine technology. Delegates also considered how to discuss cross-cutting issues, with some preferring to discuss these as a separate issue, and others calling for integrating this discussion within the four elements.

Delegates elected Rena Lee, Ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues and Special Envoy of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Singapore, as the IGC Conference President. Delegates agreed to establish a bureau for the duration of the IGC, composed of the President and 15 Vice Presidents with three representatives from each region, serving in their national capacity, and dealing with procedural matters, noting that this decision does not set a precedent for other processes.

The meeting also discussed a proposed organization of work, the IGC-1 format, and agreed on the preparation of a document to guide discussions at IGC-1. Delegates agreed that the document will serve as an “Aid to Discussion” that identifies areas for further discussion and does not constitute the zero draft. The document will be between 10-75 pages in length and will be circulated before 25 August.

The IGC will meet for four sessions, with the first session to be convened from 4-17 September 2018. The second and third sessions will take place in 2019, and the fourth session in the first half of 2020. [UN BBNJ Webpage] [IISD RS Coverage of IGC] [IISD RS Briefing Note]


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