UNGA’s Oceans and Law of the Sea Resolution Focuses on Marine Debris, Climate Change

UNGA9 December 2013: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has adopted, by a recorded vote of 115 in favor to one against (Turkey), with two abstentions (Colombia, Venezuela), its annual omnibus resolution on oceans and the law of the sea (Resolution A/RES/68/70).

The resolution contains sections on: implementation of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and related agreements and instruments; capacity-building; meeting of States parties; peaceful settlement of disputes; the Area (the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction); effective functioning of the Authority and the Tribunal; the continental shelf and the work of the Commission; maritime safety and security and flag State implementation; marine environment and marine resources; marine biodiversity; marine science; the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socioeconomic Aspects; regional cooperation; the Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea; coordination and cooperation; activities of the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS); and the 69th session of the UNGA. It also contains an annex with the terms of reference for UN-Oceans.

In the resolution, the UNGA focuses on marine debris and climate change, recalling that in the Rio+20 outcome, titled "The Future We Want," States noted with concern that the health of oceans and marine biodiversity are negatively affected by marine pollution, including marine debris; noting the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), including its recent findings on the acidification of oceans; and expressing concern about the potential environmental impacts of ocean fertilization. The UNGA also addresses other threats to the marine environment, including invasive alien species and pollution.

On the linkages between freshwater and blue water, the resolution welcomes the follow-up of relevant initiatives such as the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities. It encourages States, in order to address the issue of marine debris, to tackle, inter alia, land-based sources and consider community-based coastal and waterway clean-up and monitoring activities. [UNGA Press Release] [UNGA Resolution]