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06 JANUARY 2012
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVES OMNIBUS RESOLUTION ON OCEANS AND LAW OF THE SEA; PHL PARTICIPATES ACTIVELY ON PROPOSALS ON WELFARE OF CAPTURED SEAFARERS, MARINE BIODIVERSITY AND PEACEFUL SETTLEMENT OF DISPUTES
UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK 02 January The United Nations General Assembly (GA) approved the annual omnibus resolution on oceans and Law of the Sea, covering comprehensive concerns on the governance of the world’s oceans, including Philippine concerns on the welfare of seafarers captured by pirates, marine biodiversity and peaceful settlement of disputes.
With 134 Member States voting “Yes,” one (1) voting “No” and with six (6) abstentions, the General Assembly in its 93 rd meeting of its 66 th session decided to, among others, initiate a process within the GA to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity, which would focus on questions including the sharing of ocean benefits, environmental impact assessments, capacity ‑ building and the transfer of marine technology, and would identify gaps and ways forward.
The resolution also cited next year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change — also known as “Rio+20” — as a unique opportunity to consider measures to implement internationally agreed goals, commitments on the conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources and measures to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems and agreements to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Libran N. Cabactulan said that the resolution is “of utmost importance to an archipelagic nation like the Philippines and many of our country’s and people’s interests need to be advanced and protected by our active participation in the drafting of this resolution.”
“The resolution covers the three pillars of our foreign policy aims, including the promotion and attainment of economic security through the sustainable use of marine resources, the protection of marine biodiversity and measures to safeguard sealanes and other vital areas, the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of Filipinos overseas, particularly our seafarers who are exposed to the threats of piracy and the preservation and enhancement of national security through emphasis on the peaceful resolution of international disputes,” explained Ambassador Cabactulan.
During the General Debate, Ambassador Cabactulan pointed out that “The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is heralded as the constitution of the oceans in that it establishes the legal framework governing all aspects of ocean use and development. As a carefully balanced package of rights and obligations, it established a legal order that guarantees and safeguards not just the exercise of these rights but likewise as important, compliance with obligations.”
“As an archipelago and a maritime nation that relies on the oceans for its continued development, the Philippines attaches utmost importance to a just, orderly and meaningful legal regime for our seas and oceans,” Ambassador Cabactulan added.
The Philippines welcomed the developments on marine biodiversity reflected in Section X of the draft resolution saying that the importance of marine biodiversity, including in areas beyond national jurisdiction, for global food security, healthy functioning marine ecosystems, economic prosperity and sustainable livelihoods cannot be overstated.
The Philippines also welcomed the recommendations of the Ad Hoc Open-Ended Working Group in June 2011 that a process be initiated, by the General Assembly, with a view to ensuring the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
In this regard, Ambassador Cabactulan also thanked the General Assembly for the opportunity given to the Philippines to “serve as co-facilitator of this section along with New Zealand. We extend our thanks to all delegations for their flexibility and constructive approach that contributed immensely to the positive atmosphere of the consultations on this section.”
Welcoming that attention is drawn to the impact of piracy on the safety and welfare of seafarers in the omnibus resolution, Ambassador Cabactulan said, “Indeed, piracy is a menace to the world. It disrupts global trade and poses genuine security threats. It also impacts directly on the lives of seafarers and their families. The Philippines, which has an estimated 350,000 sailors, accounts for a quarter of the world’s seafarers. We know fully well how each piracy incident cuts through the lives of every seafarer and his family. In this regard, we wish to thank all the delegations that supported the inclusion of this important issue in this year’s draft resolution.”
On the peaceful settlement of disputes, Ambassador Cabactulan reiterated the Philippines’ commitment to advance this, saying, “As a country that holds keen interest on the oceans and its resources, the Philippines expresses its commitment once again to be a constructive and active partner, fully aware of the promise they hold for the maintenance of the legal order for the oceans and of our responsibility and duty to ensure that we comply with international obligations.”
In the introduction of the draft omnibus Brazil’s Maria Teresa Pessoa pointed out that “in previous years, the resolution contained a section on the peaceful settlement of disputes. That was a theme of particular concern this year, as many States had reiterated the need to solve disputes by peaceful means.” END
Robert E.A. Borje
Philippine Center Building | 556 5th Avenue