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Abidjan Convention Looks At Marine Biodiversity In Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

By Olubusiyi Sarr

ABIDJAN 23 June 2015 - The Abidjan Convention Secretariat and a tripartite body, known as the Partnership for Regional Ocean Governance, ended their two-day scoping workshop Sunday on ways to start a working group on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas located beyond national jurisdiction.

The tripartite body comprises the United Nations Environment Programme, the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, and the Paris-based Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations.

Participants at the workshop in the Seychelles capital, Victoria, were briefed on the negotiation process for an international instrument dedicated to areas beyond national jurisdiction; and updated on initiatives on the subject in the North-East Atlantic, Mediterranean, the Southern Ocean and the Sargasso Sea. The meeting also drew up terms of reference and a work programmefor the scoping group, which comprisedlegal and technical experts from the Abidjan Convention Contracting Parties, international and regional bodies, non-governmental organizations, and research centres.

Although outside the Abidjan Convention area of West, Central and Southern Africa, Seychelles was venue for the workshop because ofthe workshop participants were also required to attend the three-day eighth Conference of Parties to the Nairobi Convention , which ends Wednesday on this Indian Ocean African nation.

Authority for the scoping workshop came in Decision CP 11.10 of the eleventh Conference of Parties (COP11) to the Abidjan Convention held March 2015 in Cape Town, South Africa. The decision asked the Contracting Parties to “recognize the importance of the preservation and

sustainable use of areas” outside their maritime boundaries. It also asked themto “strengthen marine scientific research and decision-makingcapacity at the national and subregional levels” in these areas. Furthermore, it asked the Partiesto “participate in and contribute to the ongoing process withinthe framework of the United Nations and, in particular, the work of the Ad Hoc Open-endedInformal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use ofmarine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. COP 11 also asked the Convention Secretariat to assess the availability of finances and viability of actions regarding the establishment of the Convention’s working group to study all aspects ofthe conservationand sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction withinthe Abidjan Convention framework.

In January, the United Nations Ad HocOpen-ended Informal Working Group recommended to the General Assembly negotiations for a new international legally-binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


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