Co-Chair, Ambassador Dr. Palitha Kohona

Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations

7 May 2012 

Madame Co-Chair

Deputy Legal Counsel


Ladies & Gentlemen 

I take pleasure in welcoming you this morning to the Opening Session, to the Fifth Session, 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.   

I would also like to thank the Office of the Secretary-General for the positive attention paid to this important issue and, in particular, acknowledge presence of the Deputy  Legal Counsel.   

I would like to express my appreciation to the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea for the work done in preparation for this meeting, especially to Mr. Serguei Tarassenko, Director of the Division.  

Colleagues, we have been at this task for some time now, eight years in fact, and we are meeting again pursuant to the wishes of the General Assembly, but with clearer guidelines.  

General Assembly Resolution 66/231, Oceans and the Law of the Sea, at para 167 decided, to initiate within the ad-hoc open-ended informal working group, the process provided for in paragraph 1(a) of the recommendations of the Working Group, that the process will address the issues identified in paragraph 1(b) of the recommendations and in the fashion described in that paragraph, and that the process will take place; (i) in the Ad-hoc Open-ended informal working group and, (ii) in the format of intersessional workshops as described in paragraph 1(c) of the recommendations. 


I would like to recall that paragraph (a) of the recommendations required that a process be initiated by the General Assembly with a view to ensuring that the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction effectively address those issues by identifying gaps and ways forward, including through the implementation of existing instruments and the possible development of a multilateral agreement under the United Nations convention of the Law of the Sea.  

Recommendation (b) said this process would address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, in particular, together and as a whole, marine genetic resources, including the questions on the sharing of benefits, measures such as area based management tools, including marine protected areas, and environmental impact assessment, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology. 

Recommendation (c) required that this process would take place (i) in the existing working group and (ii) in the format of intersessional workshops aimed at improving understanding of the issues and clarifying questions as an input to the work to the Working Group.   

Colleagues, we have now reached the point where our own recommendations as adopted by the General Assembly would require us to focus our attention much more clearly than before. We need to move forward. We are aware that marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction has been an issue which has attracted much attention even in the Rio+20 process. Therefore, I would like to invite delegations to move this process forward by addressing their concerns and interests along the lines of the recommendations themselves.   

I look forward to a constructive, results-oriented, discussion.

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