Tomas H. Heidar
Legal Adviser, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland
Sixteenth Meeting of States Parties
to the United Nations Convention to the Law of the Sea
Agenda Item 15:
Report of the Secretary-General under article 319 for the information of
States Parties on issues of a general nature, relevant to States Parties, that have arisen with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
22 June 2006
Iceland attaches great importance to preserving the integrity of the Law of the Sea Convention, the only treaty dealing comprehensively with the law of the sea. This includes the need for the proper interpretation and application of the Convention.
According to article 319 (e) of the Convention, the Secretary-General shall convene necessary meetings of States Parties in accordance with the Convention. According to annexes II and VI of the Convention, the role of the meeting of States Parties is limited to financial and administrative issues. The issue of funding for members of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and improving the effectiveness of the Commission, in light of its increased workload, which we have been discussing for the last two days and will continue to discuss this afternoon, provides a good example in this respect.
In contrast, the meeting of States Parties has not been given any substantive role. Indeed, proposals for a broader role of the meeting were rejected by the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea.
The General Assembly is the global forum having the competence to undertake an annual review and evaluation of the implementation of the Convention and other developments related to oceans and the law of the sea. This is greatly facilitated by the comprehensive annual report of the Secretary-General on oceans and the law of the sea to the General Assembly.
The present report has been prepared in response to the request of the General Assembly in its resolution 60/30 of last fall. In so far as the report contains “information on issues of a general nature, relevant to States Parties, that have arisen with respect to the Law of the Sea Convention,” it is also presented to States Parties pursuant to article 319 (a) of the Convention. In my view, the first six chapters of the report, which constitute around 1/6 of the report, may qualify to fall under this description.
The title of agenda item 15 includes important qualifications that must all be respected. First, the report under article 319 is for the information of States Parties. Second, it is limited to issues of a general nature. Third, the report is limited to issues relevent to States Parties. And fourth, it is limited to issues that have arisen with respect to the Convention.
In conclusion, Mr. President, it is the view of Iceland that the meeting of States Parties does not have any substantive role. That role is fulfilled by the General Assembly and its facilitator, UNICPOLOS, which recently concluded its seventh meeting. Accordingly, Iceland will, as a matter of principle, not take part in any substantive debate in this forum.
Thank you Mr. President.