General principles and approaches of the instrument

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From the report of the BBNJ Preparatory Committee, 31/07/17 :

The text would set out the general principles and approaches guiding the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Possible general principles and approaches could include:

  • Respect for the balance of rights, obligations and interests enshrined in the Convention;
  • Due regard as reflected in relevant provisions of the Convention;
  • Respect for the rights and jurisdiction of coastal States over all areas under their national jurisdiction, including the continental shelf within and beyond 200 nautical miles and the exclusive economic zone;
  • Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States;
  • Use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction for peaceful purposes only;
  • Promotion of both the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction;
  • Sustainable development;
  • International cooperation and coordination, at all levels, including north-south, south-south, and triangular cooperation;
  • Relevant stakeholders engagement;
  • Ecosystem approach;
  • Precautionary approach;
  • Integrated approach;
  • Science-based approach, using the best available scientific information and knowledge, including traditional knowledge;
  • Adaptive management;
  • Building resilience to the effects of climate change;
  • Duty not to transform one type of pollution into another consistent with the Convention;
  • Polluter-pays principle;
  • Public participation;
  • Transparency and availability of information;
  • Special requirements of small islands developing States and least developed countries, including avoiding transferring, directly or indirectly, a disproportionate burden of conservation action onto developing countries;
  • Good faith.

Suggestion 1: General obligation[edit | edit source]

Include a general obligation, which can be based on Art 192 of UNCLOS and CBD, e.g.: “States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment and conserve marine biodiversity in ABNJ and sustainably use its components. States also have the obligation to share fairly and equitably the benefits arising from utilization of MGR derived from ABNJ.”

References: IUCN Policy Brief IV Governance Principles, UNCLOS Art 192


Suggestion 2: Obligation to prevent significant adverse impacts[edit | edit source]

Include obligation for States, acting directly and cooperating through competent international organizations, to:

  • Identify processes and activities which have or are likely to have significant adverse impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity or its components in ABNJ
  • Take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control are conducted so as to not cause significant adverse impacts on marine biodiversity and its components in ABNJ

References: UNCLOS Art 194 (taking all measures necessary to not cause damage to other States or ABNJ) CBD Art 3 (Principle), CBD Art 4, UNGA Res. 61/105, para 83-89 (significant adverse impacts)


Suggestion 3: Relevant UNCLOS principles[edit | edit source]

Refer to relevant principles drawn from the Convention, such as:

  • Freedom of the High Seas (Art 87)
  • Duty of States to adopt with respect to their nationals measures for conservation of living resources of the high seas (Art 117)
  • Common heritage of mankind with respect to the Area (Art 136)
  • Activities in the Area carried out for benefit of mankind (Art 140)
  • Protection and preservation of the Marine Environment (Art 192)
  • Cooperation on a global/regional basis (Art 197)
  • Assessment of effects of activities (Art 206)
  • Right to and principles for MSR (Arts 238, 240)
  • Technology transfer (Art 266)

References: UNCLOS Art 87 (freedom of high seas), UNCLOS Art 117 (duty over nationals), UNCLOS Art 136 (common heritage of mankind), UNCLOS Art 140 (benefit of mankind), UNCLOS Art 192 (protection of biodiversity), UNCLOS art 197 (cooperation), UNCLOS art 206 (assessment), UNCLOS arts 238, 240 (MSR), UNCLOS art 266 (technology transfer)


Suggestion 4: Other general principles to apply[edit | edit source]

List relevant principles, which could include:

  • respect for the law of the sea, in particular UNCLOS and its related instruments
  • international cooperation and coordination
  • decisions based on the best scientific and technical information available
  • precautionary approach
  • ecosystem approach
  • sustainable and equitable use of resources
  • accountability
  • transparency in decision-making processes
  • responsibility of States to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction and control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of ABNJ
  • recognition of interests of developing States, in particular the least developed States, small island developing States, and developing State coastal communities
  • the duty to take all measures consistent with the Convention and this agreement necessary to achieve the objectives of this agreement
  • common concern of human kind, incorporating the concepts of inter and intra-generational equity, accountability and fair and equitable benefit and burden sharing, and stewardship of the oceans.

References: IUCN Policy Brief IV Governance Principles, SPRFMO Convention Art 3 (list of principles), UNFSA, Art 5 (general principles), UNFSA Art 8 (cooperation), CBD Art 3 (state responsibility), UNFSA, Art 12 (transparency)


Suggestion 5: Specific obligations relating to biodiversity in ABNJ[edit | edit source]

Incorporate general list of obligations related to conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in ABNJ. These could include obligations to:

  • adopt measures to ensure long term conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity and its components in ABNJ;
  • prevent/minimize pollution
  • prevent/eliminate overfishing
  • particularly protect those marine ecosystems which have long recovery times following disturbance;
  • incorporate knowledge of the impacts of other human activities and environmental factors;
  • collect and share, in a timely manner, complete and accurate data;
  • promote and conduct scientific research and develop appropriate technologies in support of conservation and management of marine biodiversity and its components in ABNJ;
  • implement conservation and management measures through effective monitoring, control and surveillance;
  • ensure compliance with conservation and management measures and provide adequate sanctions for violations

References: UNFSA, Art 5 (general principles), SPRFMO Convention Art 3 (list of principles)


Suggestion 6: Emergency measures[edit | edit source]

Provide that where there is urgent threat to the marine environment or marine biodiversity in ABNJ, States Parties act immediately, individually and through competent organizations to immediately stop harmful or potentially harmful activities under their jurisdiction or control. Measures taken on an emergency basis should be based on the best scientific evidence available. Such measures are temporary and must be reconsidered for decision at the next meeting of the decision-making body.

References: UNCLOS Art 221 (Measures to avoid pollution arising from maritime casualties), SPRFMO Art 20, para 5(b) (Conservation and Management Measures)

Also see[edit | edit source]