Intergovernmental Processes

(1) United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP):

The United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP) was established in 2002 following a decision taken at the Seventh Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development to enhance the effectiveness of the annual review of developments relating to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea undertaken by the General Assembly. It has since then improved coordination and cooperation among States.

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(2) Intergovernmental Conference on an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction

The General Assembly established the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction in 2004. The Working Group met in 2006, 2008, and 2010-2015. In 2015, the Working Group made recommendations to the General Assembly, inter alia, to decide to develop an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. The General Assembly decided to develop an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction and to that end, prior to holding an intergovernmental conference, to establish a Preparatory Committee to make substantive recommendations to the General Assembly on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS. The Preparatory Committee held four sessions in 2016 and 2017, and recommended to the General Assembly on the elements.

In response to the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee, the General Assembly, in its resolution 72/249, decided to convene an intergovernmental conference, under the auspices of the United Nations, to consider the recommendations of the Preparatory Committee on the elements and to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS 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.

In that resolution, the General Assembly also decided that, initially with respect to 2018, 2019 and the first half of 2020, the conference shall meet for four sessions of a duration of 10 working days each, with the first session taking place in the second half of 2018, the second and third sessions taking place in 2019, and the fourth session taking place in the first half of 2020, and requested the Secretary-General to convene the first session of the conference from 4 to 17 September 2018. It also decided that the conference shall hold a three-day organizational meeting in New York, from 16 to 18 April 2018, to discuss organizational matters, including the process for the preparation of the zero draft of the instrument.

(3) Regular process

The Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects (Regular process) was established by the General Assembly following a decision taken at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) to strengthen the regular scientific assessment of the state of the marine environment in order to enhance the scientific basis for policy-making.

The start-up phase to the Regular Process, called the “assessment of assessments”, was concluded in 2009. A census of existing ocean assessments was conducted and consolidated in the Gramed database.

The output of the first cycle of the Regular Process, the First Global Integrated Marine Assessment (“first World Ocean Assessment”), was completed in 2015 and a summary thereof was approved by the United Nations General Assembly at its seventieth session.

It provides an overall assessment of the scale of human impact on the oceans and the overall value of the oceans to humans; the main threats to the marine environment and human economic and social well-being; the needs for capacity-building and effective approaches to meeting such needs; and the most serious gaps in knowledge and possible ways of filling them.

The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution 70/235, decided to launch the second cycle of the Regular Process. In its resolution 71/257, the General Assembly decided that the second cycle will cover five years, from 2016 to 2020. The programme of work for the period 2017–2020 for the second cycle of the Regular Process is contained in A/71/362.

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