NEW YORK, 22 August 2022 (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its fifty-fifth session at United Nations Headquarters from 5 July to 19 August 2022. The plenary parts of the session were held from 1 to 5 and from 8 to 12 August. The remainder of the session was devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division. Thus, for the first time after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission met for seven weeks, including two weeks of plenary meetings, as originally scheduled, including in-person meetings with delegations.
Ten submissions were on the agenda of the session, namely those made by the Russian Federation in respect of the Arctic Ocean (partial revised submission); Brazil in respect of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin (partial revised submission); France and South Africa jointly in respect of the area of the Crozet Archipelago and the Prince Edward Islands; Kenya; Nigeria; Palau in respect of the North Area (partial amended submission); Sri Lanka; Portugal; Spain in respect of the area of Galicia (partial submission); and India (partial submission). Given the progress in examining the submissions before it, the Commission decided that the subcommission established for consideration of the submission made by Mauritius in respect of the region of Rodrigues Island would resume its work at the fifty-sixth session.
During the plenary parts of the session, the Commission heard presentations of five submissions made, respectively, by Malaysia concerning the South China Sea; Chile in respect of the eastern continental shelf of Easter Island Province; Indonesia concerning the area south-west of Sumatera; Chile in respect of the western continental shelf of the Chilean Antarctic Territory; and Ecuador concerning the southern region of the Carnegie Ridge.
The Chairperson informed the Commission about deliberations of the thirty-second Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, held in June 2022, on matters concerning the Commission. In the light of the views expressed at that meeting, the Commission discussed various aspects of its working methods with a view to enhancing the efficiency of examination of submissions. The Commission established working groups for the purposes of keeping the working methods of the Commission under review, identifying needs of the Commission for an upgrade of existing technical facilities, and easing the induction of newly elected members.
Further details of the fifty-fifth session will be reflected in the Statement of the Chair (CLCS/55/2).
The Commission will hold its fifty-sixth session from 5 October to 22 November 2022, without plenary meetings.
Established pursuant to article 2, annex II to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Commission makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States. These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States in relation to the implementation of article 76 of the Convention. The recommendations do not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts or prejudice the position of States that are parties to a land or maritime dispute, or application of other parts of the Convention or any other treaties. The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding. In the case of disagreement by the coastal State with the recommendations of the Commission, the coastal State shall, within a reasonable time, make a revised or new submission to the Commission.
Under rule 23 of its rules of procedure (Public and private meetings), the meetings of the Commission, its subcommissions and subsidiary bodies are held in private, unless the Commission decides otherwise.
As required under the rules of procedure of the Commission, the executive summaries of all the submissions, including all charts and coordinates, have been made public by the Secretary‑General through continental shelf notifications circulated to Member States of the United Nations, as well as States parties to the Convention. The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/clcs_home.htm. The summaries of recommendations adopted by the Commission are also available on the above-referenced website.
The Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography. They serve in their personal capacities. Members of the Commission are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation. Not fewer than three members shall be elected from each geographical region.
Currently, one seat on the Commission continues to be vacant due to the lack of nominations from the Eastern European Group of States.
The Convention provides that the State party which submitted the nomination of a member of the Commission shall defray the expenses of that member while in performance of Commission duties. The participation of several members of the Commission from developing countries has been facilitated by financial assistance from a voluntary trust fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission from developing countries.
For additional information on the work of the Commission, see the website of the Division at www.un.org/depts/los/index.htm. In particular, the most recent statements by the Chair on the progress in the work of the Commission are available at www.un.org/depts/los/clcs_new/commission_documents.
Source: United Nations