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The organizational session for the Conference was held at UN Headquarters in New York from 19-23 April 1993. The participants adopted the rules of procedure and agenda, elected all but one of the officers, appointed a Credentials Committee, and agreed on how its substantive work will be carried out. Satya N. Nandan (Fiji) was elected Chair of the Conference. Nandan served from 1983-1992 as Under-Secretary-General for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Law of the Sea. The Conference also elected three of the four Vice-Chairs: Mohamad Mahmoud of Mauritania (for the African States); Tullio Treves of Italy (for the Western European and Other States); and Andr‚s Couve of Chile (for the Latin American States). The election of a Vice-Chair for the Eastern European States was deferred until the Conference.

The following countries were appointed to the Credentials Committee: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Burundi, China, Kenya, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Russian Federation and the United States.

The participants at the organizational session also agreed that all substantive issues would remain the responsibility of the Plenary. In order to facilitate negotiations, it was decided that consultations on specific issues would be assigned to ad hoc working groups or negotiating groups when appropriate. Due to the scientific and technical nature of substantive issues with technical content, governments were encouraged to include experts on fisheries matters on their delegations. The Chair was asked to prepare a paper containing a list of substantive subjects and issues as a guide for the Conference, and delegations were requested to submit their proposals to the Secretariat by the end of May.

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