Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction: Intractable Challenges & Potential Solutions

From 15-16 May, the 43rd Annual Center for Oceans Law and Policy (COLP) Conference took place at the World Maritime University (WMU). The event was co sponsored by the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Law, the World Maritime University–Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, and The Nippon Foundation.

The conference focused on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction: Intractable Challenges & Potential Solutions, and featured many of the world's leading experts including the Keynote Speaker, HE Rena Lee, President of the Intergovernmental Conference on BBNJ. Speakers and participants from over 30 countries discussed the development of an internationally legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).  

In her opening remarks, Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, President of WMU, stated: “We are pleased to partner with the Center for Oceans Law and Policy on this unique conference which brings together many lawyers, scientists and other experts including governments, industry, academics and non-governmental organisations. The negotiations on the BBNJ are a once in a generation opportunity which we must seize. The important cross-sectoral discussions will undoubtedly benefit the negotiations and its conclusion at the Intergovernmental Conference scheduled for 2020.”

Commenting on the outcome of the conference, Professor Myron Nordquist, Associate Director for the Center for COLP at UVA, stated, "The Conference at WMU was timely and comprehensive in scope with respect to the current negotiations at the United Nations on Biodiversity in the Area Beyond National Jurisdiction. WMU's supporters are to be congratulated on co-hosting one of the most productive conferences we have held in four decades."

Professor Ronan Long, Director of the WMU-Sasakawa Global Ocean Institute, was responsible for planning the event in conjunction with COLP. Associate Sponsors for the conference included the Centre for International Law, Singapore; the Institute for China-America Studies; the U.S. Naval War College; the Korea Maritime Institute; the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure; and the Swedish Agency for Maritime and Water Management (SwAM).

Roughly 60% of the ocean lies in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In its resolution 72/249 of 24 December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to convene an Intergovernmental Conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee established by resolution 69/292 of 19 June 2015. The Preparatory Committee is to consider the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, with a view to developing the instrument as soon as possible. The first session was convened from 4 to 17 September 2018 and the second session from 25 March to 5 April 2019. The third session will be convened from 19 to 30 August 2019 and the fourth session will take place in the first half of 2020.

For a full album of photos, click here.


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