3rd Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on 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 (BBNJ)
View of the IGC-2 plenary session on the Informal Working Group on Marine Genetic Resources
Drawing from the first two sessions of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) held in September 2018 and March-April 2019, delegates will have before them the much-awaited draft text of an agreement, prepared by IGC President Rena Lee in conjunction with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (UNDOALOS) that addresses the topics identified in the package agreed in 2011, including:
marine genetic resources (MGRs), including questions on benefit-sharing;
area-based management tools, including marine protected areas;
environmental impact assessments; and
capacity building and marine technology transfer.
As in past meetings, the crux of the negotiations still lies under principles and approaches to be agreed particularly as they relate to marine genetic resources, where the lines are drawn either in support of the common heritage of humankind, or in support of the freedom of the high seas. As reflected in the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB)summary and analysis from IGC-2, those in favor of the freedom of the high seas emphasize that access to marine genetic resources should be unimpeded, while supporters of the common heritage principle highlight the need for oversight and, more crucially, benefit-sharing.
Those subscribing to the freedom of the high seas support non-monetary, voluntary benefit-sharing based on mutually agreed terms. On the other hand, those in favor of the common heritage principle are calling for standardized, mandatory benefit-sharing, including modalities for monetary benefit-sharing. Moreover, the question of how the new agreement will support and “not undermine” the work of existing regional and sectoral bodies is still to be decided.
The third session of the IGC on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) will be held from 19-30 August 2019 at UN Headquarters in New York.
IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB Meeting Coverage, will provide daily web coverage, daily reports, and a summary and analysis report from BBNJ IGC 3.
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