Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement – United Nations: 4th Preparatory Committee on Biological Diversity beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Opening Statement

New York, 10/07/2017 - 00:00, UNIQUE ID: 171206_1
Statements on behalf of the EU

Statement by the European Union at the United Nations 4th Preparatory Committee on Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction.

Mr. Chair,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

Allow me to begin by congratulating you on the skilful manner in which you guided the work of the third session of the Preparatory Committee and to express our gratitude for preparing  the ‘Indicative Suggestions’ we requested at the last meeting and which offer an excellent  point of departure to guide our discussions during this PrepCom session.  We are very much looking forward to working closely with you and your team throughout PrepCom IV. The EU and its Member States also deeply appreciate the valuable contribution of the previous Chair, Ambassador Eden Charles of Trinidad and Tobago, all the Facilitators of the Informal Working Groups as well as the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea.

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States consider that much has been achieved by the three sessions of the Preparatory Committee since its establishment under the General Assembly Resolution 69/292. The Chair’s Overview of the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee, including the oral reports of the Facilitators, illustrate the significant progress already made. This is particularly important having arrived at the foreseen final session of the Preparatory Committee which requires us to adopt substantive recommendations on the elements of the draft text of the new legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in line with the mandate of the said Resolution. As evidenced by the facilitators’ reports, we have had rich and in-depth discussions throughout the three PrepComs thanks to the hard work put in by many delegations, supported by the great efforts of the facilitators under the capable leadership of both Chairs. Whereas there are a number of issues, which require further refinement during PrepCom IV, it is important to acknowledge that States have found common ground on a majority of key issues across the different elements of the package. We also recognise that some issues are more intractable and can only be tackled during negotiations at a subsequent phase.

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States thank you for your paper with “Indicative Suggestions”. We consider this to be a useful starting point in our deliberations to produce strong recommendations over the next two weeks. Your paper has provided us with a structured outline of the elements of the implementation agreement and we are ready to proceed on the basis of your paper. We also believe that there is still room to further strengthen and arrange these elements and thus, during the course of the first week of this PrepCom, the EU and its Member States will be providing some ideas and suggestions in this respect. We are also mindful of the fact that different options have been proposed by delegations on a number of issues which can be reflected in your report as well.

Mr. Chair,

The EU and its Member States are committed to working with all delegations to bring to a successful conclusion the very important preparatory phase and move to negotiations in the form of an Intergovernmental Conference. We are confident that an Intergovernmental Conference is a correct forum for consolidating and developing our work further; a suitable forum for negotiation of those issues where consensus still needs to be identified; the right forum for compromises and for the arriving at a balanced outcome.

We believe that as a result of our collective work sufficient progress in the unpacking of the elements of the package has been achieved. The PrepCom has developed a comprehensive set of substantial elements and there is an emerging consensus among delegations in a majority of areas. We have also seen that there is a big demand among delegations for a new agreement. The constructive deliberations of the delegations have shown political will by an overwhelming majority of States to move our work forward. The importance of the new agreement and the support for an Intergovernmental Conference as a next step has been expressed by many delegations and civil society representatives during various recent international events (such as The Ocean Conference, SPLOS, ICP). There is a particular responsibility on the shoulders of this session of the PrepCom to bring the negotiations to the next level. It is important to bear in mind that the final goal of the future agreement is to ensure conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of ABNJ; therefore it is incumbent on us to be flexible in order to consolidate the work done so far into strong substantive recommendations. For these reasons, the EU and its Member States are ready to engage in constructive discussions so as to make the next progressive steps towards the new agreement. We are confident that as the result of our work throughout the PrepCom, we have made sufficient progress in the development of the elements of the agreement and that consequently, the 72nd Session of UNGA will be able to take the decision to launch the IGC. The international community and future generations expect no less of us. The EU and its Member States are of the opinion that if we are going to continue building on the momentum generated by the Preparatory Committee, the Intergovernmental Conference should start as soon as possible, ideally in 2018.

Mr. Chair,

Having said all this, let me reiterate in conclusion, that the EU and its Member States are looking forward to engaging constructively with you and with all delegations during this session of PrepCom, in inclusive deliberations over the next two weeks. We trust in your experience and strong leadership to lead us to complete successfully the current phase of our work enabling the UN General Assembly to decide to launch the Intergovernmental Conference by the end of this year in order that it may start already in 2018.

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