KINGSTON, JAMAICA, 24 July 2012 – – Thirty years ago, in Montego Bay, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) opened for signature. Today, in Kingston, the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority met in a special session to commemorate that milestone event, and pay tribute to those who worked for the successful adoption of UNCLOS.
Opening the morning session, President of the Assembly Mr. Milan J. N. Meetarbhan (Mauritius), said the landmark Convention allowed the world to celebrate a treaty addressing the concept of the common heritage of mankind, and the establishment of its appurtenant legal regime and implementing agency. He described Article 136 of the Convention as “one of the landmarks of legal drafting of international instruments by virtue of its simplicity, yet unambiguous affirmation of a commitment to international cooperation and equity”
Prime Minister of host country Jamaica, the Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, said the thirtieth anniversary commemoration held special significance for her government and people who are celebrating fifty years of nationhood this year. “We are humbled by the fact that just over a decade after gaining Independence, Jamaica was able to play an active role in helping to craft this landmark legislation”, the Prime Minister said.
Mrs. Simpson Miller highlighted some contributions of the Convention to global political and economic development such as improved international maritime law and the avoidance of disputes, and scientific research. She said the emphasis on the protection and preservation of the marine environment and its resources is of major importance to Jamaica and the Caribbean which rely on the ocean’s resources for tourism, fishing and transportation.
In his address, Secretary-General Nii Allotey Odunton (Ghana) reflected on the Authority’s significant achievements since it was launched thirty years ago on 10 December 1982. He recalled the skepticism deep sea mining attracted during its infancy in the 1960s and the years of negotiations it took before the Authority was established on 16 November 1994 with headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.
The Secretary-General said the Authority has endured teething pains and “evolved into a substantive organization with the current 162 Parties to the Convention.” He noted that ISA has adopted two sets of Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for polymetallic nodules (in 2000) and for polymetallic sulphides (in 2010) in the Area, and is on the verge of adopting a third set of regulations on cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts.
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