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Twenty-second Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, on Agenda Item 10: Thirtieth Anniversary of UNCLOS June 11, 2012
11 June 2012 / 04:37

Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago accepted certain provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“the Convention”) as forming part of customary international law even before the entry into force of the Convention. This was partly due to our adherence to the 1958 Geneva Conventions on the Law of the Sea.

Over the past thirty years, Trinidad and Tobago has utilized the Convention in the conduct of certain aspects of our international relations with other coastal States. We have relied on its provisions for delimiting our Territorial Sea, Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf with opposite or adjacent costal States pursuant to the relevant provisions of the instrument. The conclusion of maritime boundary delimitation agreements with our neighbours, as well as bilateral fisheries agreements, have resulted in Trinidad and Tobago being able to explore and exploit the living and non-living marine resources within national jurisdiction for the economic development of our country.

The legal framework provided under the Convention has been quite useful in our sub-region where there exists overlapping claims to various maritime zones recognized under international law. Without the Convention as a guide, Trinidad and Tobago and other States in the area would have found it very difficult to conclude bilateral treaties delimiting their respective maritime zones.

Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago has been able to declare itself as an Archipelagic State and has benefitted from such declaration. We have also drawn and established the relevant baselines as required under Article 47 of the Convention. The coordinates have been deposited with the Secretary-General in his capacity as depository under the Convention.

We also view the Convention as a well-balanced and comprehensive document as it allows States the opportunity to use diplomatic means, such as negotiations, to settle their differences, but also establishes a regime for the settlement of disputes by a third party where negotiations have failed. Consequently, Trinidad and Tobago was able to utilize the services of an arbitral tribunal established under Part XV of the Convention in order to settle a maritime boundary dispute with a neighbouring State. Subsequent to the award of the arbitral tribunal, Trinidad and Tobago made a declaration under Article 287 accepting the jurisdiction of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Convention.

Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago is also satisfied that it has made and continues to make a contribution to the proper functioning of bodies established by the Convention. The late eminent jurist, Mr. Lennox Ballah, played a prominent role at the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea and also served as a judge of the Tribunal. Justice Anthony Lucky succeeded him as a member of this judicial organ. You will also recall that only last Wednesday, Mr. Francis Charles was re-elected as a Member of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf.

During the last thirty years we have been very supportive of the critical role being played by the International Seabed Authority (“the ISA”) as the body entrusted with the responsibility under Article 157 of the Convention, to administer, organize and control activities in the International Seabed Area on behalf of mankind. We have participated in all sessions of this organ and have also served as a Member of the Council since its inception, as it attempts to develop legal codes for prospecting, exploration and eventual exploitation of minerals found in the Area.

Madame President,

Thirty years is a significant milestone. States Parties should be proud of the achievements made by the Convention in promoting the rule of law in our oceans and seas. Since its adoption, we have witnessed the conclusion of both the 1994 and 1995 Agreements to implement specific provisions of the Convention. Trinidad and Tobago is convinced that as a matter of priority, States Parties must now proceed with efforts to conclude an implementing agreement relating to marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. The conclusion of such an agreement would ensure that all countries are able to benefit from the exploitation of these resources in the same manner that applies to the mineral resources of the International Seabed Area.

The Twenty-second Meeting of States Parties is an opportune moment for States Parties to recommit themselves to the full implementation of all of the provisions of the Convention. Consequently, it is Trinidad and Tobago’s expectation that States Parties, despite the international economic crisis affecting all regions of the globe, would provide all treaty bodies, including the Tribunal, with the financial and other support that are essential to the success of these bodies.

Thank you.

Twenty-second Meeting of States Parties To the United Nations Convention On the Law of the Sea, (Commission on The Limits of the Continental Shelf) June 4, 2012
04 June 2012 / 05:03

Madam President,

The importance of the work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf cannot be understated. While its mandate is to provide recommendations to States Parties seeking to establish the outer limits of their continental shelf in accordance with Article 76 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“the Convention”), by so doing, it also assists the International Seabed Authority (“the Authority”) in determining where national jurisdiction ends, and the international seabed Area begins.

Trinidad and Tobago mourns the passing of Commander Albuquerque of Brazil who worked assiduously as Chairman, to advance the work of the Commission. We are, however, heartened that Commissioner Gallo Carrera, who has been with the Commission since its inception, is here today advising us on the progress of the work of this body.

Our delegation has noted the strides made by the Commission to improve its working methods and to make submissions to States Parties in a timely manner. Trinidad and Tobago nevertheless remains concerned that despite the annual reports of the Commission which highlight the endless challenges faced by the Commission, some nominating States are still unable to meet their obligations under the Convention pursuant to Annex II, Article II, and paragraph 5 of the Convention. This concerns their obligations to meet the costs of the participation of their nationals in matters related to the work of the Commission. The situation remains grave despite the modest recommendations made by the Informal Working Group on the Workload of the Commission that was adopted as decision SPLOS/229 at last year’s Meeting of States Parties. States Parties will recall that this decision is geared towards improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the treaty body. Trinidad and Tobago is hopeful that the challenges being faced by the Commission would be alleviated with the election of new Members during this week’s meeting.

We also commend the Commission for its perseverance and for adopting the recommendations of States Parties on the need to meet more frequently to address its workload. Trinidad and Tobago has made a Submission to the Commission seeking to establish the outer limits of our continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. However, we continue to be very concerned that based on the projected timeline announced by the Commission, a Sub-Commission would be established to examine our Submission as late as 2028. Nonetheless, Trinidad and Tobago still remains fully committed to the work of the Commission as it carries out its mandate in an independent and impartial manner, with the able assistance of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS), which serves as the Secretariat of the Commission.

Madame President,

We also wish to pay homage to Japan for the generous contribution it has pledged a few minutes ago, to the Voluntary Trust Fund that was established to assist in defraying the costs of participation of Members of the Commission from developing countries in the work of this organization.

In closing, Madame President, I must take the opportunity to remind States Parties of the candidature of Mr. Francis Charles of Trinidad and Tobago for re-election to the Commission during Wednesday’s election.

The International Seabed Authority At the Twenty-second Meeting of States Parties To the United Nations Convention On the Law of the Sea, June 4, 2012
04 June 2012 / 04:58

Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago receives with appreciation the information provided by the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (“the Authority”) on the activities of the organization over the past year.

We have noted the progress made by the Authority relating to the discharge of its mandate under Part XI of the Convention and the 1994 Agreement. Secretary-General Odunton and his administration must be complimented for building on the work of his predecessor, Ambassador Satya Nandan, the organization’s first Secretary-General. Especially as it relates to the conclusion of legal codes for prospecting and exploration of minerals found in the deep seabed in the Area beyond national jurisdiction. We look forward to our active participation in the resumption of the deliberations for the conclusion of cobalt rich ferromanganese crusts at the upcoming session in July. With the adoption of regulations governing cobalt, the Authority would have added to the legal regime already established for prospecting and exploration of nodules and sulphides.

We also share the concerns expressed by the Secretary-General and the Permanent Representative of Jamaica on the need for more Members to honour their obligations and attend the annual meetings of the Authority. Their presence would add greater legitimacy to the Authority’s work on behalf of all members of the international community.

Trinidad and Tobago also welcomes the work already done by the Authority in providing information on the equitable sharing of the proceeds derived from the exploitation of non-living resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles in accordance with Article 82 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (“the Convention”). This work is very commendable as it ensures that all States Parties would have some rules- based mechanism to assist them as well as the Authority concerning the equitable sharing of benefits derived from the exploitation of the resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles.

Madame President,

The Authority must also be commended for its outreach work through the hosting of workshops and seminars to enlighten States Parties on various aspects of its work, including marine scientific research in the Area pursuant to Article 143 of the Convention. Such workshops are critical to the better understanding of marine scientific research in the Area which must be carried out exclusively for peaceful purposes and for the benefit of mankind as a whole.

Finally, Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago wishes to congratulate Secretary-General Odunton on his nomination for re-election for a second term, and hopes that his candidature receives the support of all Members of the Authority at their meeting in Jamaica in July.

Report of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea At the Twenty-second Meeting of States Parties To the United Nations Convention On the Law of the Sea, June 4, 2012
04 June 2012 / 04:46

Madam President,

I congratulate you and Members of the Bureau on your election to preside over this meeting. I also wish to congratulate Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves of the Permanent Mission of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for his stewardship during the 21st meeting of States Parties.

Trinidad and Tobago welcomes the Report of the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“the Tribunal”, or “ITLOS”).

We view the Report of the Tribunal as a public declaration of the activities of this treaty body that provides States Parties and others the opportunity to examine its work, consistent with the provisions of parts XV and XI of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (“the Convention”), as well as the relevant provisions of the Statute of the Tribunal.

Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the strides made by ITLOS in settling disputes which have developed between and among States Parties concerning the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Convention. Because of our faith in the integrity, impartiality and professionalism of the members of this important judicial organization, we made a Declaration under Article 287 of the Convention accepting the Tribunal as our preferred choice for the settlement of disputes which may arise under the Convention.

Madame President,

It is very significant to Note that as the international community commemorates the 30th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Convention, the Tribunal delivered its first judgment relating to maritime boundary delimitation. We have examined the judgment in the case concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Bangladesh and Myanmar in the Bay of Bengal, and wish to acknowledge the strength of the legal reasoning contained in its pages. While we note that it is binding on the respective States Parties, its contents have made an invaluable contribution to the jurisprudence of the law of the sea in general.

Madame President,

As the number of States Parties continues to grow, we are hopeful that it would, in the near future, include all Members of the United Nations. It is also our hope that future States Parties would accept the jurisdiction of Tribunal to settle any possible disputes which may occur among them.

Over the past year, Trinidad and Tobago has observed the proactive stance adopted by the Tribunal through its review and examination of various legal issues relevant to its jurisdiction, as well as its Rules and Judicial procedures. We are of the view that such a progressive approach places the Tribunal in a good position to deal with the increased demands of States Parties which seek to settle their disputes by peaceful means.

Madame President,

The Convention contemplates a degree of cooperation, as appropriate, among the bodies which fall within its framework. In this regard, Trinidad and Tobago was pleased with the level of support which the Advisory Opinion delivered by ITLOS in the case concerning responsibilities and obligations of States sponsoring persons and entities with respect to activities in the Area received from Members of the International Seabed Authority during its last session held in Kingston, Jamaica.

We also note that despite the increase in the work load of the Tribunal, it has presented a budget which provides for a zero growth approach. It is our expectation that States Parties would view this budget favorably.

Finally, Madame President,

Trinidad and Tobago remains committed to the work of the Tribunal and will continue to support this body as it makes its contribution to the preservation and promotion of the rule of law in keeping with the provisions of the Convention.

Safer World Seminar – Preparing for the Arms Trade Treaty: Key Implementation Priorities and Challenges, London, U.K., 9 – 10 May, 2012
09 May 2012 / 10:10

Mr. Chairman,

Once again, it gives me great pleasure to participate in a Seminar organized by Safer World, an organization dedicated to eliminating the negative effects associated with the illegal trade in conventional weapons. This illicit trade is largely due to the absence of commonly agreed to international standards to regulate the legal trade in these weapons, which has resulted in tremendous loopholes that are exploited by criminals and other actors. I also wish to express my appreciation to the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office for supporting my participation at this event.

Review of the Implementation Debate


Mr. Chairman, during the meetings of the Preparatory Committee for the Arms Trade Treaty (“the ATT” or the “Treaty”), States expressed different views and opinions on the mechanisms required for the effective implementation of the Treaty. Consequently, the question to be asked is, why do we need an effective implementation regime in the ATT? My response is that the ATT must meet all of the requirements of a treaty in order for it to be effective. An important component therefore must be a robust implementation regime. In other words, the strength of the treaty’s implementation regime is critical to the success or failure of the instrument.

Understanding the views of States:

The implementation argument can thus be divided into two schools, that is, those who are in favour of a rigorous implementation regime versus those who seek a softer approach to implementation. Trinidad and Tobago has always advocated for as robust an implementation regime as possible. We also argued that this mechanism must be supported by an efficient and independent Implementation Support Unit (“ISU”) or Secretariat.

Additionally, some States have also articulated that there is a need for a degree of scrutiny as far as national implementation of the provisions of the instrument is concerned, without prejudice to the sovereign rights of States protected under international law, especially those under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations on the right of States to self defense. Those in support of an oversight system have argued that an independent vehicle, that is, an ISU or Secretariat, should be charged with the responsibility to monitor treaty implementation by States Parties.

To this end, it has also been argued that the ISU, in verifying compliance with Treaty obligations should be tasked with, among other things, the following responsibilities:

-Receive national reports from States Parties, and in so doing, seek to verify compliance with the ATT;

-Coordinate requests from States Parties for assistance thereby assisting with international cooperation, e.g., in the provision of model legislation.

It should also be noted that even where there has been agreement that an ISU should be found in the Treaty, there is no agreement on whether that body should be independently funded, that is paid for by States Parties and not linked to the UN system e.g. under the ambit of the UNODA; and whether the ISU should be lean and mean or more expansive.

In arguing for a more progressive approach to implementation, some States have called for the ATT to include articles which would require States Parties to enact implementing legislation that includes provisions which would establish offences to be penalized e.g. illegal brokering activities and illegal transfers. It must be emphasized that the criminalization of certain types of conduct in a treaty is not novel as examples can be seen in other instruments, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Continuing with the argument for a robust implementing regime, a number of States also advanced that the ATT should make provision for some form of Victim Assistance and that it should be implemented by States Parties in their national legislation. They articulated that such inclusion would be consistent with international humanitarian law and international human rights law, for the care and rehabilitation of victims of armed conflict and armed violence. This issue has raised questions on the effect of such a measure on the ability of some States Parties to pay for such assistance. Others also contend that the inclusion of such a provision would expand the ATT beyond an instrument that is geared to regulate the trade in conventional arms and equate it with a humanitarian law or human rights agreement.

The discussions also raised issues relating to the possible inclusion of cooperation at the regional level for the implementation of the ATT and the possible role of mutual legal assistance agreements. It was opined that such agreements could aid in the investigation, prosecution and trial of offences in violation of the ATT.

The Meetings of the Preparatory Committee also examined elements found in other treaties which could aid in the implementation of the ATT. In this regard, attention was placed, among other things, on a possible place for Meetings of States Parties where States Parties could demonstrate their political commitment to the implementation of the treaty, as well as analyze any progress and pitfalls in implementation. Nevertheless, there remains concern by some States over the utility of such meetings, their frequency, and the costs involved in hosting them. Trinidad and Tobago’s position is that such meetings are established in other conventions and have proven very useful in assisting with implementation in several ways, including, the exchange of best practices, renewal of political commitment to achieve universality, as well as assessing the viability of proposed amendments to the agreements. Similarly, we also support those who have advanced that the ATT should also provide for the convening of Review Conferences for the examination and possible adoption of amendments to the ATT in order to address matters which were not contained in the original text of the instrument.

Way Forward:

In closing, I wish to submit that while the Chair’s text of July 2011, is useful and contains important elements that should be included in the implementation regime of the ATT, I find it to be limited and represents a minimum position. It is now left for the negotiators at the Diplomatic Conference in July to build on the foundation that this paper provides. This must be an imperative if we are to have a Treaty that would require States Parties to domesticate in their national jurisdictions measures which would ensure effective implementation of the agreement, thereby achieving its object and purpose.