Mr. Jeem Lippwe
Permanent Mission of the
Federated States of Micronesia to the United Nations
On behalf of the Members of the Pacific Islands Forum that maintain Permanent Missions to the United Nations in New York
Before the 11th Meeting of the State Parties to the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
New York, 16 May 2001
Check Against Delivery
I have the honor to make this statement on behalf of the following countries of the Pacific Island Forum - Australia; Fiji; my own country the Federated States of Micronesia; Marshall Islands; Nauru; New Zealand, Papua New Guinea; Samoa; Solomon Islands; Tonga and Vanuatu.
Delegates would be aware of the fundamental importance of the Convention of the Law of the Sea to our countries. The Convention provides the framework for the conservation and use of resources of the oceans that surrounds us, and permits both developed and developing countries to benefit from the use of those resources. This principle holds true in the specific case of the resources of the continental shelf.
Before saying anything else, I would like to take this opportunity to thank, on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum countries, the delegations of Chile; Sierra Leone, and Seychelles for raising the issue of the timeframe for delimitation of the continental shelf. We would also like to express our deep appreciation for the very comprehensive and constructive paper on the issue prepared by the Secretariat.
Article 76 of the Convention sets out the requirements, which States Parties must satisfy to define the outer limits of the areas of extended continental shelf. Article 4 of Annex II sets out a 10-year timeframe for the making of submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.
The basic documents of the Commission have provided further guidance as to how States should go about preparing submissions. It is clear that the preparation and presentation of a submission is a complex task, requiring significant levels of resources, capacity and expertise.
Large amount of data - bathymetric, seismic and geophysical - must be collected, collated and analyzed.
Many countries, including some of the member countries of the Pacific Island Forum, do not have the necessary capacity to undertake this task, and clearly will not be able to make a submission within the 10-year timeframe envisaged by the Convention.
A crucial theme of the Convention is that developing States should not, through lack of resources or capacity, be disadvantaged in access to or use of their resources. The Convention contains important provisions on technology transfer so as to ensure developing States are able to exercise their rights and fulfill their obligations under the Convention. It would be inconsistent with the general approach of the Convention if developing states were unable to define the limits of their areas of extended continental shelf in accordance with the Convention due to lack of resources or capacity.
It is for this reason that we introduce this position paper on the timeframe for submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The paper recognizes that many states will not be able to meet the deadline, for reasons of capacity, financial and technical resources, the fact that other key jurisdictional boundaries have not been settled, or the complexity of the technical issues involved in making such a submission. The paper also notes that States only had a clear idea of how to prepare a submission after the Commission adopted its Scientific and Technical Guidelines on 13 May 1999.
The position paper urges States Parties to agree that the ten-year period would not begin to run for any State Party, regardless of its date of ratification or accession, until the date of adoption of the Commission's guidelines. The paper also suggests that States Parties agree that the time for making a submission be further extended beyond ten years where a State Party has been unable, for technical reasons including lack of technical capacity, to comply in good faith with the time limitation.
Our countries are pleased to note that the observations and suggestions in the Pacific Island Forum position paper are consistent with the Secretariat's paper. Certainly our countries support that paper fully.
The countries of the Pacific Island Forum would like to urge all States Parties to consider this issue, and the solutions proposed, Our countries believe that this meeting has the opportunity to find a solution this week which is satisfactory to all, and looks forward to working together with all States Parties to achieve such an outcome.