In previous discussions between Ambassador Suan, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations and the International Seabed Authority (ISA), Myanmar expressed an interest in an informational workshop to be organised at Yangon in partnership with ISA. The overall objective of such workshop would be to raise awareness among the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) on the potential opportunities arising from their increased participation in activities undertaken in the Area. The workshop would also facilitate consultation amongst other relevant actors to facilitate enabling conditions for improved capacity-building opportunities for these countries, particularly Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Land-locked Developing Countries (LLDCs).
2. Background information
Altogether, ASEAN and BIMSTEC members have a combined GDP of $4,2 trillion, and a population of nearly 2,15 billion, which represents about 29% of the global population. In 2007, ASEAN members adopted the ASEAN Charter, a constitutional document providing the grouping with legal status and revamping its institutions. Since the start of the ASEAN free trade area in 1993, intra-ASEAN trade grew from 19.2% to 25.9% in 2016. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is today the third largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world. As a regional group, BIMSTEC constitutes a bridge between South and South-East Asia. BIMSTEC has also established a platform for intra-regional cooperation between ASEAN members. In the last five years, BIMSTEC members have been able to sustain an average 6.5% economic growth.
But despite the fact that ASEAN and BIMSTEC members have benefited from steady economic growth over the years, significant challenges remain in terms of economy and trade, particularly in terms of disparity between the different countries. This is especially so for a group of LDCs among which some also face specific challenges due to their condition as LLDCs. In this context, both of these organisations have identified the need to support regional economic development, including through identification and implementation of specific cooperation projects in the sectors of trade, investment and industry, with technology being a critical objective. Improving regional capacity to respond to global challenges and emerging trade-related issues through enhanced cooperation is also of paramount importance. This is reflected in the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 as operationalised by the ASEAN Economic Community 2025 Consolidated Strategic Plan and in the 1997 Bangkok Declaration on the establishment of BIMSTEC. In this setting, increased participation of ASEAN and BIMSTEC organisations and their respective members in the work of the Authority and in activities undertaken in the Area presents significant potential prospects for socio-economic advancement.
However, although most of the ASEAN and BIMSTEC members are Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and to the 1994 Agreement, only two countries currently sponsor activities in the Area: India and Singapore. Nevertheless, a number of ASEAN and BIMSTEC members have shown interest in attending ISA’s annual sessions regularly. Indeed, five of them have attended systematically over the last five years (Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Bangladesh and India). Further, as of April 2018, only two countries have benefited from the capacity-building programmes of ISA: Bangladesh and Myanmar.
In light of the above, an informational workshop resourced by international and regional experts could add significant value to ASEAN and BIMSTEC members, by raising awareness and increasing knowledge on the importance and opportunities associated with their increased participation in activities in the Area. The workshop would also review issues associated with UNCLOS and the work of ISA on marine mineral resources development, as well as areas of practical cooperation among the participating countries.
3. Objectives of the workshop
The main objectives would be to achieve:
- Optimal level of knowledge amongst ASEAN and BIMSTEC members on the mandate and responsibilities of ISA as well as the obligations of sponsoring States and contractors in undertaking activities in the Area;
- Understanding of the potential development opportunities arising to ASEAN and BIMSTEC members from increased participation in activities undertaken in the Area; and
- Enabling conditions for capacity-building opportunities for ASEAN and BIMSTEC members and for LDCs and LLDCs in particular.
4. Expected results of the workshop
The informational workshop would provide dedicated opportunity to:
(a) provide improved understanding of potential benefits for ASEAN and BIMSTEC members to participate in activities undertaken in the Area;
(b) better informed and increased participation in decision-making processes that affect the Area;
(c) advance relevant technical capacity in relation to activities undertaken in the Area;
(d) contribute to the sustainable development of ASEAN and BIMSTEC members’ Blue Economy.
5. Implementation modalities
The informational workshop would be organised by ISA and co-hosted by the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
The workshop will bring together experts from the international legal and scientific community with national government officials. Technical experts from relevant UN agencies (DOALOS, ITLOS, UN-OHRLLS) would also be invited.
DAY 1 | Session I
Presentation | Contents and achievements of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and its significance for South and South East Asia; Young Kil Park, Korea Maritime Institute
Presentation | The International Seabed Authority: Role, Functions and Structure; Gwenaelle Le Gurun, ISA Secretariat
DAY 1 | Session II
Presentation | The United Nations and the Oceans. The work of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea; Vladimir Jares, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations
Presentation | The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea : overview of decisions relating to the South Asia and South East Asia; Young Kil Park, Korea Maritime Institute
Presentation | The outer limits of the continental shelf : Submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf with a focus on the Bay of Bengal; Galo Carrera
DAY 1 | Session III
Presentation | Enhancing the Participation of ASEAN countries in the Area; Gulardi Nurbintoro, Directorate of Legal Affairs and Territorial Treaties, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Indonesia
Presentation | Potential Opportunities Associated with the Development of Mineral Processing Activities in South Asia and South East Asia; Prof. Zhuo Xiaojun, China Minmetals Corporation
DAY 2 | Session IV
Presentation | The Legal Framework for Activities in the Area: Transitioning from Exploratoin to Exploitation; Gwenaelle Le Gurun, ISA Secretariat
Presentation | Resources of the Area and industrial application of deep-seabed minerals; XiangYang Li, China Ocean Mineral Resources R & D Association
Presentation | Legal Regime Governing the Conduct of MSR in the Area; Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, ISA Secretariat
Presentation | Protection and Preservation of Marine Environment; Rahul Sharma, CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, India
Presentation | Equitable Benefit-Sharing under UNCLOS; Michael Lodge, Secretary-General, ISA Secretariat
DAY 2 | Session V
Presentation | Strengthening national capacities for coastal and seabed mineral development-the Myanmar experience; Htun Thein (Fisheries Sector); Government of Myanmar
Presentation | Strengthening National Capacities for Coastal and Seabed Mineral Development- Myanmar’s Experiences; Thet Tin Nyunt, Department of Geological Survey and Mineral Exploration, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation
Presentation | Oil and Gas Sector for Strengthening National Capacities for Coastal and Seabed Mineral Development- the Myanmar’s Experience; U Zaw Min Aung, Ministry of Electricity and Energy, Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise
Presentation | Strengthening National Capacities for Coastal and Seabed Mineral Development: Coastal and Seabed Management in EIA System; Hla Hla Htwe, Environmental Conservation Department, Government of Myanmar
Presentation | Overview of Capacity-Building Programmes & Initiatives developed by ISA; Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, ISA Secretariat
Presentation | Capacity Building in ASEAN and BIMSTEC Regions; Rahul Sharma, CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, India
TV Coverage : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rruKv8fn_CE
 India has signed two exploration contracts with the Authority. One was signed in 2002 and granted a 5-year extension for exploration in the Central Indian Ocean Basin and another one was signed in 2016 and cover a part of the Indian Ocean Ridge.
 Singapore is sponsoring an exploration contract signed in 2015 between Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte. Ltd and the Authority for activities that are undertaken in the Clarion-Clipperton-Fracture Zone (reserved area).