Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

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Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction

Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction in 2011

United States views on international law (based on the document “Digest of U.S. Practice in International Law”): The fourth meeting of the United Nations General Assembly's informal working group on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction took place May 31 to June 3, 2011 in New York. As in past years, the major topics of discussion included environmental impact assessments, marine protected areas, and marine genetic resources. The working group adopted recommendations that were transmitted to the United Nations General Assembly for endorsement in its resolution on oceans and law of the sea, adopted December 24, 2011. U.N. Doc. A/RES/66/231.

The U.S. opening statement at the meeting reiterated the U.S positions expressed at past meetings of the working group. see this world legal encyclopedia in relation with the year 2010 at 557-58. Specifically, the U.S. opening statement explained U.S. support for the use of environmental impact assessments for planned activities that may cause substantial pollution of or significant and harmful changes to the marine environment in areas within and beyond national jurisdiction. The U.S. opening statement expressed support for using marine protected areas that are based on the best available science and for which implementation, compliance, and enforcement measures are “consistent with customary international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.” In addition, the U.S. opening statement highlighted “the need and opportunity to strengthen implementation of the U.S. commitments to conserve and sustainably use high seas living marine resources,” and reiterated the following U.S. position:

While some have called for a new international regime regarding marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, we continue to believe this is unnecessary and undesirable. As we have stated in prior meetings, we do not support the development of a regime for benefit-sharing for the products derived from marine genetic resources found in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

First, customary international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention provides the framework under which all activities in the ocean are to be governed. The use and protection of living resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction fall under the high seas regime of the Law of the Sea Convention (part VII). As we are all aware, there are key provisions in the Convention regarding the conservation and management of living resources found in the high seas.


Second, we do not believe that a new legal regime regarding benefit sharing for marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction would lead to greater conservation or sustainable use of marine biodiversity. On the contrary, we are concerned that such a regime would impede invaluable research and development. The greatest benefits to humanity from marine genetic resources will come from the worldwide availability of the products stemming from these living resources, and the contributions those products make in fundamental areas such as better public health, improved agricultural processes, and new scientific knowledge. Furthermore, development of products derived from marine genetic resources has proven to be an expensive, risky, complex, and lengthy undertaking, and one that results not simply from collecting the organism, but rather from years of research, innovation, investment, and ingenuity. Therefore, we do not support the development of a benefit-sharing regime for products made from marine genetic resources obtained from areas beyond national jurisdiction, but we of course do support appropriate conservation and sustainable use of these resources.


See Also

  • Environment
  • Transnational Scientific Issues
  • Protection Of Environment
  • Marine
  • Conservation
  • National Jurisdiction

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