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International Oceans Day; Time to Heed Warnings, Discharge Obligations and act on Commitments PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Posted by Joan Russow
Monday, 08 June 2015 13:27
 
by Joan russow
 
Global Compliance research Project
 
 
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For years, there have been significant international conventions, and conferences related to protecting the marine environment.  And  this year there will be the finalizing of the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, one of which is  the following:
 
GOAL 14: CONSERVE AND SUSTAINABLY USE THE OCEANS, SEAS AND MARINE RESOURCES FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.
 
There have been obligations incurred under various Conventions addressing the oceans and marine Biodiversity  such as the 1982  UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, (UNCLOS, the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In addition, there have been warnings and commitments related to Oceans, in UN Conferences, such as the UN Conference on Environmental and Development (UNCED) and the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD).
Enclosed are various excerpts from the Conventions and Conference with articles related to International Oceans Day. 
 
UN CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEAS
 
The UN Convention on the Law of the Seas should be ratified by all member states of the United Nations, and  the necessary legislation enacted to ensure compliance.
Excerpts:
And under Article 66 1, of the Convention is the following obligation:
1. States in whose rivers anadromous stock (such as salmon and surgeon) originate shall have the primary interest in and responsibility for such stocks and shall ensure their conservation
 
Recognizing that the area (open sea) is the common heritage of mankind all humanity
Principles governing the Area Common heritage of mankind all humanity The Area and its resources are the common heritage of mankind all humanity (Article 136. Law of the Seas, 1982)
a. States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. (Part XII. Article 192. General Obligation. Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment, Law of the Seas, 1982)
 
 
Undertaking to protect and preserve the marine environment
States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. (Part XII. Article 192. General Obligation. Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment, Law of the Seas, 1982)
 
Undertaking measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment
States shall take, individually or jointly as appropriate, all measures consistent with this Convention that are necessary to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from any source, using for this purpose the best practicable means at their disposal and in accordance with their capabilities and they shall endeavour to harmonize their policies in this connection (Art. 194, 1. Law of the Seas, 1982)
 
Under Art 194 2 of the Law of the Sea is the obligation to enforce the transboundary principle; 
To  take all measures necessary to ensure that activities under their jurisdiction or control are so conducted as not to cause damage by pollution to other States and their environment, and that pollution arising from incidents or activities under their jurisdiction or control does not spread beyond the areas where they exercise sovereign rights in accordance with this Convention. (Art. 194. 2., Law of the Seas, 1982)
States have the obligation to protect and preserve the marine environment. (Part XII. Article 192. General Obligation. Protection and Preservation of the Marine Environment, Law of the Seas, 1982)
 
Undertaking the duty not to transfer damage or hazards or transform one type of pollution into another 
In taking measures to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment, States shall act so as not to transfer, directly or indirectly, damage or hazards from one area to another or transform one type of pollution into another (Article 195, Law of the Seas, 1982)
Under the law of the seas, there are many important articles
 And in1995 agreement “relating to the Conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks …is the obligation to invoke the precautionary principle.
 Under Article 194 5 of the legally binding UN Law of the Sea is the obligation
to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment and to take measures necessary to protect and preserve fragile ecosystems as well as the habitat of … forms of marine life.
Undertaking to protect and preserve the marine environment
 
 
IN THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
 UNFCCC  REFERS TO THE MARINE ENVIFRONMENT 
 
Most states have ratified the legally binding framework Convention on Climate Change.  What they must do at COP21 in Paris is  commit to a legally binding protocol that will fufill the key obligation under Article 2 of the UNFCCC
 
ARTICLE 2 OBJECTIVE The ultimate objective of this Convention and any related legal instruments that the Conference of the Parties may adopt is to achieve, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.
 
Acknowledging that change in the Earth's climate and its adverse effects are a common concern of humankind, 
 
Concerned that human activities have been substantially increasing the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, that these increases enhance the natural greenhouse effect, and that this will result on average in an additional warming of the Earth's surface and atmosphere and may adversely affect natural ecosystems and humankind, 
 
Noting that the largest share of historical and current global emissions of greenhouse gases has originated in developed countries, that per capita emissions in developing countries are still relatively low and that the share of global emissions originating in developing countries will grow to meet their social and development needs,  
 
Aware of the role and importance in terrestrial and marine ecosystems of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases,
Noting that there are many uncertainties in predictions of climate change, particularly with regard to the timing, magnitude and regional patterns thereof (Framework Convention on Climate Change, 1992).
 
Article 3 principles UNFCCC
 
ARTICLE 3 PRINCIPLES In their actions to achieve the objective of the Convention and to implement its provisions, the Parties shall be guided, inter alia, by the following: 1. The Parties should protect the climate system for the benefit of present and future generations of humankind, on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Accordingly, the developed country Parties should take the lead in combating climate change and the adverse effects thereof. 2. The specific needs and special circumstances of developing country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and of those Parties, especially developing country Parties, that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention, should be given full consideration. 
 
3. The Parties should take precautionary measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing such measures, taking into account that policies and measures to deal with climate change should be cost-effective so as to ensure global benefits at the lowest possible cost. To achieve this, such policies and measures should take into account different socio-economic contexts, be comprehensive, cover all relevant sources, sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases and adaptation, and comprise all economic sectors. Efforts to address climate change may be carried out cooperatively by interested Parties.
 
Promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs
Promote sustainable management, and promote and cooperate in the conservation and enhancement, as appropriate, of sinks and reservoirs of all 11 greenhouse gases not controlled by the Montreal Protocol, including biomass, forests and oceans as well as other terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems; (Article 4 d
Aware of the role and importance in terrestrial and marine ecosystems of sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases,
Recalling also the provisions of General Assembly resolution 44/206 of 22 December 1989 on the possible adverse effects of sea-level rise on islands and coastal areas, particularly low-lying coastal areas and the pertinent provisions of General Assembly resolution 44/172 of 19 December 1989)
 
There is sufficient evidence that there is serious irreversible damage to the marine environment caused by Climate change  diversity, to justify invoking the precautionary principle 
 
 
CONVENTION ON BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
All member states must ratify the CBD and its protocols and enact the necessary legislation to ensure compliance
 
EXCERPTs
It is clear that the biodiversity also applies to the marine environment.
Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (Convention on Biological Diversity, UNCED, 1992)
Reference to the precautionary principle
 
Noting also that where there is a threat of significant reduction or loss of biological diversity, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to avoid or minimize such a threat,
There is sufficient evidence that there is serious irreversible damage, loss of significant biological diversity, to justify invoking the precautionary principle) 
2. Contracting Parties shall implement this Convention with respect to the marine environment consistently with the rights and obligations of States under the law of the sea.
 
CHAPTERS IN AGENDA 21
All member states of the United Nations adopted Agenda 21 at UNCED; many of these chapters contain warnings that have never been heeded:
 
Advance implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, with particular emphasis in the period 2002-2006 on municipal wastewater, the physical alteration and destruction of habitats, and nutrients, by actions at all levels to:
 
Loss of biological diversity
The loss of biological diversity may reduce the resilience of ecosystems to climatic variations and air pollution damage. Atmospheric changes can have important impacts on forests, biodiversity, and freshwater and marine ecosystems, as well as on economic activities, such as agriculture (9.16., Atmosphere, Agenda 21, 1992) 
Take action where necessary for the conservation of biological diversity through the in situ conservation of ecosystems and natural habitats, as well as primitive cultivars and their wild relatives, and the maintenance and recover of viable populations of species in their natural surroundings, and implement ex situ measures, preferably in the source country. In situ measures should include the reinforcement of terrestrial, marine and aquatic protected area systems and embrace, inter alia, vulnerable freshwater and other wetlands and coastal ecosystems, such as estuaries, coral reefs and mangroves;...(15.5 g. Biodiversity, Agenda 21 
Increased marine environment degradation
 Degradation of the marine environment can result from a wide range of sources. Land-based sources contribute 70% of marine pollution, while maritime transport and dumping-at-sea activities contribute 10 % each (Marine, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)
 Increased vulnerability of marine environment to change
 The marine environment is vulnerable and sensitive to climate and atmospheric changes. (17.101., Marine, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)
Increased risk of impact from increase in sea level
 Small increases in sea level have the potential of causing significant damage to small islands and low-lying coasts (17. 98, Marine, Agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)) 
 
 
IN THE YEAR 2025
 
unprecedented increase in environmentally persistent wastes
 Unsustainable patterns of production and consumption are increasing the quantities and variety of environmentally persistent wastes at unprecedented rates. 
The trend could significantly increase the quantities of wastes produced by the end of the century and increase quantities four to fivefold in the year 2025. (21.7., solid wastes, agenda 21, UNCED, 1992))
Early in the next century, more than half of the world's population will be living in urban areas.  In the year 2025, that proportion will have risen to 60 per cent, comprising some 5 billion people.  Rapid urban population growth and industrialization are putting severe strains on the water resources and environmental protection capabilities of many cities.  Special attention needs to be given to the growing effects of urbanization on water demands and usage and to the critical role played by local and municipal authorities in managing the supply, use and overall treatment of water, particularly in developing countries for which special support is needed.  Scarcity of freshwater resources and the escalating costs of developing new resources have a considerable impact on national industrial, agricultural and human settlement development and economic growth.  Better management of urban water resources, including the elimination of unsustainable consumption patterns, can make a substantial contribution to the alleviation of poverty and improvement of the health and quality of life of the urban and rural poor.  A high proportion of large urban agglomerations are located around estuaries and in coastal zones.  such an arrangement leads to pollution from municipal and industrial discharges combined with overexploitation of available water resources and threatens the marine environment and the supply of freshwateresources (art. 18.56, agenda 21, UNCED, 1992)..
 
COMMITMENTS THROUGH WORLD SUMMIT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
 
While many of the articles in the WSSD refer to commitments to future actions, often with a time line.  Many of the time lines have been ignored by the Member states that made the following commitments
IN THE YEAR 2006
 [Agreed] Make every effort to achieve substantial progress by the next GPA Conference in 2006 to protect the marine environment from land-based activities. WSSD32(d)
 
 [Agreed] Encourage the application by 2010 of the ecosystem approach, noting the Reykjavik Declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem and Decision 5/6 of the Convention on Biological Diversity; WSSD9 (d)
Support the Arctic Council initiative to assess the environmental, social and economic consequences of climate change on the Arctic as well as on the Antarctic, in particular the  impact on local and indigenous communities. WSSD 36 (e)
 
Change in the Earth's climate and its adverse effects are a common concern of humankind. We remain deeply concerned that all countries, particularly developing countries including the least developed countries and small island developing States, face increased risks of negative impacts of climate change and recognize that, in this context, the problems of poverty, land degradation, access to water and food and human health remain at the centre of global attention.(WSSD 36)         
 
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the key instrument for addressing climate change, a global concern, and we reaffirm our commitment to achieving its ultimate objective of stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system, within a time frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner, in accordance with our common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. Recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration, in which heads of State and Government resolved to make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, preferably by the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 2002, and to embark on the required reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases, States that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol strongly urge States that have not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner. Actions at all levels are required to:
  Meet all the commitments and obligations under the UNFCCC;
  Work cooperatively towards achieving the objectives of the UNFCCC;
  Provide technical and financial assistance and capacity building to developing countries and countries with economies in transition in accordance with commitments under the UNFCCC, including the Marrakech accords;
  Build and enhance scientific and technological capabilities, inter alia through continuing support to the IPCC for the exchange of scientific data and information especially in developing countries;
  Develop and transfer technological solutions;
  Develop and disseminate innovative technologies in respect of key sectors of development, particularly energy, and of investment in this regard, including through private sector involvement, market-oriented approaches, as well as supportive public policies and international cooperation;
  Promote the systematic observation of the Earthís atmosphere, land and oceans by improving monitoring stations, increasing the use of satellites, and appropriate integration of these observations to produce high-quality data that could be disseminated for the use of all countries, in particular developing countries;
  Enhance the implementation of national, regional and international strategies to monitor the Earthís atmosphere, land and oceans including, as appropriate, strategies for integrated global observations, inter alia with the cooperation of relevant international organisations, especially the United Nations specialized agencies in cooperation with the UNFCCC;
  Support initiatives to assess the consequences of climate change, such as the Arctic Council initiative, including the environmental, economic and social impacts on local and indigenous communities. (WSSD)
 
                (a)           Facilitate partnerships, scientific research and diffusion of technical knowledge; mobilize domestic, regional and international resources; and promote human and institutional capacity-building, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries;
                (b)           Strengthen the capacity of developing countries in the development of their national and regional programmes and mechanisms to mainstream the objectives of the Global Programme of Action and to manage the risks and impacts of ocean pollution;
                (c)           Elaborate regional programmes of action and improve the links with strategic plans for the sustainable development of coastal and marine resources, noting in particular areas which are subject to accelerated environmental changes and development pressures;
                (d)           Make every effort to achieve substantial progress by the next Global Programme of Action conference in 2006 to protect the marine environment from land-based activities. WSSD check more
WSSD34(b) [Agreed] Establish by 2004 a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting  and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, both current  and foreseeable, building on existing regional assessments;
e
 
Effectively reduce, prevent and control waste and pollution and their health-related  impacts by undertaking, [by 2004], initiatives aimed at implementing the Global Programme  of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities in Small Island Developing States; (36e WSSD)
 
IN THE YEAR 2002
 Advance implementation of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the Montreal Declaration on the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, with particular emphasis in the period 2002-2006 on municipal wastewater, the physical alteration and destruction of habitats, and nutrients, by actions at all levels to:
                (a)           Facilitate partnerships, scientific research and diffusion of technical knowledge; mobilize domestic, regional and international resources; and promote human and institutional capacity-building, paying particular attention to the needs of developing countries;
                (b)           Strengthen the capacity of developing countries in the development of their national and regional programmes and mechanisms to mainstream the objectives of the Global Programme of Action and to manage the risks and impacts of ocean pollution;
                (c)           Elaborate regional programmes of action and improve the links with strategic plans for the sustainable development of coastal and marine resources, noting in particular areas which are subject to accelerated environmental changes and development pressures;
                (d)           Make every effort to achieve substantial progress by the next Global Programme of Action conference in 2006 to protect the marine environment from land-based activities. WSSD
IN THE YEAR 2004
 Establish by 2004 a regular process under the United Nations for global reporting  and assessment of the state of the marine environment, including socio-economic aspects, both current  and foreseeable, building on existing regional assessments; WSSD34(b)
 
Effectively reduce, prevent and control waste and pollution and their health-related  impacts by undertaking, [by 2004], initiatives aimed at implementing the Global Programme  of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities in Small Island Developing States; WSSD52 (e)
 
IN THE YEAR 2012
Develop and facilitate the use of diverse approaches and tools, including the ecosystem approach, the elimination of destructive fishing practices, the establishment of marine protected areas consistent with international law and based on scientific information, including representative networks, by 2012, and time/area closures for the protection of nursery grounds and periods, proper coastal land use; and watershed planning and the integration of marine and coastal areas management into key sectors; (WSSD31(c)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
PLATFORM OF ACTION
 
 
Continuing environmental degradation that affects all human lives often has a more direct impact on women. Women's health and their livelihood are threatened by pollution and toxic wastes, large-scale deforestation, desertification, drought, and depletion of the soil and of coastal and marine resources, with a rising incidence of environmentally related health problems and even death reported among women and girls. Those most affected are rural and indigenous women, whose livelihood and daily subsistence depends directly on sustainable ecosystems (Art. 36 Advance draft, Platform of Action, UN. Conference on Women, May 15)
*** UNIVERSAL DECLARATION ON THE ERADICATION OF HUNGER AND MALNUTRITION, 1974)
Collaborating in conservation of natural resources and in preservation of the environment
To assure the proper conservation of natural resources being utilized, or which might be utilized, for food production, all countries must collaborate in order to facilitate the preservation of the environment, including the marine environment. (Sect. 8., Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, 1974)
 
 
Promoting the knowledge of and sponsor research on the role of indigenous women in food gathering, soil conservation...
Promote the knowledge of and sponsor research on the role of women, focusing particularly on rural and indigenous women in food gathering and production, soil conservation, irrigation, ecologically sound practices in watersheds watershed  management, sanitation, coastal zone and  ecologically sound practices in marine environment marine resource management, integrated pest management, land-use planning, forest conservation and community forestry, fisheries, natural disaster prevention and new and renewable sources of energy, focusing particularly on indigenous women's knowledge and experience (Art.256 f Advance draft, Platform of Action, UN Conference on Women, May 15)
 
Conclusion
Ensuring that in all decisions made about the environment that the ecosystem is given primacy. “Ensuring that every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to humans 
 
 United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
Documents of the Conference
 
 and in1995 agreement “relating to the Conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks …is the obligation to invoke the precautionary principle.
 
to prevent, reduce and control pollution
of the marine environment and to take measures necessary to protect and preserve fragile ecosystems as well as the habitat of … forms of marine life.
And under Article 66 1&2, of the Convention is the following obligation:
1. States in whose rivers anadromous stock (such as salmon and surgeon) originate shall have the primary interest in and responsibility for such stocks and shall ensure their conservation
 
ANNEX II
GUIDELINES FOR THE APPLICATION OF PRECAUTIONARY REFERENCE
POINTS IN CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT OF STRADDLING FISH
STOCKS AND HIGHLY MIGRATORY FISH STOCKS
 
1. A precautionary reference point is an estimated value derived through an agreed scientific procedure, which corresponds to the state of the resource and of the fishery, and which can be used as a guide for fisheries management.
2. Two types of precautionary reference points should be used: conservation, or limit, reference points and management, or target, reference points. Limit reference points set boundaries which are intended to constrain harvesting within safe biological limits within which the stocks can produce maximum sustainable yield. Target reference points are intended to meet management objectives.
3. Precautionary reference points should be stock-specific to account, inter alia, for the reproductive capacity, the resilience of each stock and the characteristics of fisheries exploiting the stock, as well as other sources of mortality and major sources of uncertainty.
***SEABED TREATY
57.2. Undertaking to not implant or emplace on the seabed and the ocean any nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction
The States Parties to this Treaty undertake not to implant or emplace on the seabed and the ocean floor and in the subsoil thereof beyond the outer limit of a seabed zone [of 22 kilometre] any nuclear weapons or any other types of weapons of mass destruction as well as structures, launching installations or any other facilities specifically designed for storing, testing or using of such weapons (Art. 1.1. Seabed Treaty of 1971, force 1972)
57.2. Undertaking to not implant or emplace on the seabed and the ocean any nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction
The States Parties to this Treaty undertake not to implant or emplace on the seabed and the ocean floor and in the subsoil thereof beyond the outer limit of a seabed zone [of 22 kilometre] any nuclear weapons or any other types of weapons of mass destruction as well as structures, launching installations or any other facilities specifically designed for storing, testing or using of such weapons (Art. 1.1. Seabed Treaty of 1971, in force 1972)
(World Charter of Nature). “Ecosystem” means a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit (Convention on Biological Diversity, UNCED, 1992). Biodiversity is defined as “the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (Convention on Biological Diversity, UNCED, 1992)
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Last Updated on Friday, 04 September 2015 14:40
 

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