Pacific delegates join international community to finalise highseas treaty


Pacific delegates have joined the rest of the international community at what is hoped to be the finale in the negotiations of the marine biological diversity treaty at the UN Headquarters in New York, USA.

Forum Secretary General and Pacific Ocean Commissioner Henry Puna is pleading with all the nations of the world to bring the high seas treaty canoe home- to have a legally binding instrument by the end of the two weeks.

Acknowledging the hardwork and effort put in by negotiators from all over the world and the Pacific, Mr Puna said its adoption would be a momentus occassion for humanity.

“The process of negotiating this legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, UNCLOS, has been challenging and arduous, lasting well over a decade. Its adoption will be a momentous occasion for humanity as, together with other agreements, it would represent a ‘whole ocean’ approach, particularly on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction,” he said.

The Intergovernmental Conference resumed its fifth session on February 20 and conference President Reena Lee of Singapore called on delegates to find through commitment, flexibility and creative approaches a text that bridges the existing gaps.

She urged them to be open to compromise to be able to reach consensus which will enable them to reach “an agreement that is universal, effective, implementable is within our reach.”

“If we continue to be committed, to be flexible, to be creative, we will get there,” said Lee.

For that, delegates should focus on building bridges that help build consensus, rather than aiming to achieve the desired words and phrases in every provision of the text.

She appealed to all delegates to focus on what they here to do in New York, which is to conclude the negotiations and cross the finish line.

The Pacific is engaging in this resumed session with the expectation it will finalise a legally binding instrument on BBNJ.

Meanwhile, Pacific warriors as termed by American actress and activist Jane Fonda are bracing the bone chilling winter of New York as the fifth session of Intergovernmental Conference on BBNJ begins this week.

Fonda who met few Pacific experts commended them for the work they do for the region especially on pacific ocean and climate change.

“I closely follow what’s happening in your part of the world. The people who are affected the most but contributed the least to climate change,” the emotional Fonda said as she hugged scientist Dr Katy Soapi from the Pacific Community.

Star struck duo Dr Soapi and Dr Frances Vaka’uta said they were elated after running into Fonda.

Dr Soapi and Dr Vaka’uta are part of the pacific delegates who are part of the international community trying to finalise a legally binding instrument on BBNJ.

This session will go on until 03 March.