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close this bookOcean governance: Sustainable development of the Seas (UNU, 1994, 369 pages)
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Report on the conference

The papers presented for discussion during the conference have been organized around four main themes, each projecting unique yet closely-interwoven institutional implications for sustainable development in the oceans:

I. The existing framework for ocean governance
II. Ocean governance - National level
III. Ocean governance - Regional level
IV. Ocean governance - Global level

Six papers were read under the first theme. These papers examine various current aspects of the international setting from which a new era of ocean governance is emerging. In his paper, Ambassador Pinto enumerates the institutional implications of implementing "sustainable development" in marine affairs and argues that the Law of the Sea Convention supplies the needed approaches to institutional development, having anticipated the concept of sustainable development in many ways. UN Under-Secretary-General Satya Nandan for his part identifies global and regional institutions and mechanisms for cooperation and coordination in marine matters. In "Existing institutional framework and mechanisms" he notes the need to revitalize international institutions and their activities, this to be coupled with a comprehensive approach to the management of the oceans and their resources. He concludes with the suggestion that there be created within the UN General Assembly framework a new global forum where all ocean issues can be discussed periodically with the participation of all relevant international institutions.

The paper of Ambassador Njenga of the Asian-African Legal Consultative Committee urges the ratification of the Convention by all states and underlines the necessity of preserving the total integrity of the 1982 Convention before its entry into force. Ratification and entry into force of the Convention, he further asserts to rebut contrary claims, do not entail a colossal financial cost on the part of State Parties. In "The role of indigenous peoples in ocean governance," Professor Van Dyke recounts the perspectives and claims of native peoples to offshore waters and resources. The ocean management approach of indigenous peoples built upon harmony, he argues, is certainly something to learn from.

In the floor discussion that followed, two general points are worth recalling. First, there was a general agreement concerning the need to establish a new global forum within the UN General Assembly framework where all oceans issues can be discussed. Certain caveats were, however, articulated. In the first place attention was called to three problems arising from the proposal. One, the question of power: whether the forum will have decision-making functions or whether it will be limited to consultative and advisory functions. Two, the problem of finding a suitable location for the forum. And three, the issue of the objectives of the forum, e.g., whether it will be involved in the implementation of the Law of the Sea Convention. Then, it was explained that the overall international picture characterized by rapid technological advances, on the one hand, and increasing regionalization outside the UN framework, on the other, must be reckoned with by any organization of ocean governance built upon the Law of the Sea Convention. This was followed by the crucial role of the private or parastatal sector in policy-making being emphasized. Second, the debate about making the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention "universal" in character was revived. Different reactions put forward about the on-going efforts to make the Convention universally acceptable, nevertheless acknowledged the necessity for new ideas to address this predicament.

Two sets of papers were presented for the sessions devoted to the theme "Ocean governance - National level." The first deals with overview considerations on the nature of and problems associated with national institutions that address ocean concerns. Thus, Stella Maris Vallejo analyses a broad cross-section of national experiences in integrated ocean policy and concludes that there are no fixed institutional models in managing coastal, near-shore, and ocean environments but only options that should be tailored to the circumstances and institutional traditions of each country. For their part Ernst Lutz and Mohan Munasinghe invite attention on the prospects of environmental accounting which ought to inform national economy-wide policies for sound natural resource management, including managing the marine sector. On account of its supplementary explanations, the reaction of Dr Max Börlin to the paper of Lutz and Munasinghe during the conference, which elaborates further the concept on environmental accounting in the marine sector, is included in this volume as an addendum to the main paper.

The second set of papers consist of case-studies on national ocean governance. The situation in India was presented by Dr Saigal who, among others, called the attention of the conference to the Ocean Policy Statement of the India Department of Ocean Development. The Indian model is impressive because it succeeded in proceeding from a fact-finding phase to the implementation of various R&D programmes within a period of only 12 years. Professor Tsutomu Fuse in presenting the next paper showed the characteristics of Japanese decision-making in ocean governance. The age-old tradition of consensus-making underlies the Japanese model.

Some major trends in the discussion on ocean governance at the national level can be identified. First, it was not doubted that marine affairs should be raised higher in the national political agenda. The importance of leadership in generating the political priorities deserved by the oceans was underlined. Second, the widely-practiced coastal area management can serve as a starting point in shaping national marine policy, provided that its linkage with ocean management is not ignored. Third, there was reiterated concern that scientific research, education, and training are national capabilities that call out for emphasis in policy-making and the widest possible constituency. Accordingly, a brief on the Portuguese initiatives on the establishment of an interdisciplinary marine centre and the joint Portuguese-UNESCO project on promoting ocean education, research, and teaching of particular significance to developing countries was welcomed by the Conference. Fourth, although it was stressed that governments are compelled to intervene in order to safeguard basic environmental interests, the creative role of the private sector in national ocean governance was, however, amplified. Lastly, the need for a new accounting framework in national marine accounting systems logically calls also for supranational ocean accounting. The participants concurred that difficulties in the implementation of new accounting schemes should be an urgent item for study.

An African perspective on national ocean governance was shared by Ambassador Abdul Koroma. He reported that although some success has been achieved in the field of regional cooperation, African states are not yet reaping the benefits envisaged by the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.

The most numerous papers received by the Conference dwelt on the subject of ocean governance at the regional level. This indicates in fact the consensus that the regional level in marine affairs is a most crucial bridge joining the national and global levels of sustainable development in the oceans. As at the national level, papers presented may be delineated into two sets: those that address the significant dimensions of regional governance, and case-studies.

Stjepan Keckes recalled the Regional Seas Programme experience of UNEP. In his paper, he makes a forecast of what lies ahead for existing regional action plans and the role that UNEP will play in the future. Among the many insights of Jean-Paul Troadec, he maintains that poor performances in fisheries, including inefficiencies in resource conservation, are caused by deficiencies in institutions regulating access. It is not, therefore, economics that need to be reconciled with ecology but those institutions that need to be adjusted to the new conditions of resource scarcity. Professor Vicuña's paper evaluated the role of joint development or joint management zones as a mode of regional cooperation in the exploration and exploitation of non-living marine resources and commended its expanding use. Drawing heavily from the initiative involving the Mediterranean Centre for Research and Development in Marine Industrial Technology, Dr. Saigal's paper formulates the institutional ingredients for regional centres for marine science and technology. The paper by Gunnar Kullenberg and Agustin Ayala-Castañares addressed regional cooperation in marine science from the global framework provided by the International Oceanographic Commission. Finally, the peculiarities and possibilities of regional ocean governance in the Baltic Sea and the Indian Ocean are provided by Nikolaus Gelpke and Hiran W. Jayewardene respectively.

There was prolific discussion during the regional level Conference sessions. Because the papers presented highlighted the undisputed common denominator of indispensable regional approaches to ocean governance, the participants deliberated on the diverse aspects or possibilities of regional action. Initially, the difficulty of distinguishing regional and local scales was pointed out. This notwithstanding, management initiatives could still be realized. A Charter of Scientific Cooperation among developing countries containing a strategy for networking and cooperation among marine science and technology institutions was, for instance, proposed. Secondly, the intensifying regional focus of international organizations inside and outside of the UN system was acknowledged and commended. Thirdly, modalities for inviting and encouraging the participation of land-locked and hinterland states in marine environmental arrangements were put forward. Last but not the least, PIM XIX was informed of efforts in the European Community to formulate an integrated ocean policy; an aide-mémoire by Uwe Jenisch of Germany concerning ocean governance at the European level was submitted as part of the Conference records.

Six papers were presented under the Conference theme "Ocean governance - Global level." In the paper "Ocean governance and the global picture" the authors propose the application of the principle of the common heritage of mankind and its institutional implications to other areas of global concern: energy, food, atmosphere, and outer space. Dr Thomas Mensah in his paper argues that there are certain changes, both internal and external, that have to take place with reference to competent international organizations if these institutions are to effectively discharge the new roles assigned to them by the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention. The contribution of Jacques Richardson suggests some practical approaches and guidelines for improved public communication about the law of the sea. Specific proposals are made on a medium intended to evoke both public reaction and decision-making concern at the highest governmental and intergovernmental levels.

Joseph Morgan, whose paper described navies and their peacetime roles, expresses apprehension about the world environment that continues to call on the combat mission of navies. The paper on the "Question of financing" by Dr Ruben Mendez proposes a system of international taxes, user fees, and other automatic revenue-generating mechanisms that could fund ocean-related programmes. Finally, Professors Alexander Yankov and Mário Ruivo develop the idea of a global ocean forum. An Ocean Assembly, they maintain, is the institutional response to the demand for integration in ocean governance.

The prevailing view that emerged from the subsequent discussion was that the regime for integrated management of ocean space in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, founded upon the common heritage of mankind principle, in many respects can serve as a model for the evolution of corresponding regimes for the governance of other natural entities, like food and energy systems, outer space, or atmosphere and climate. An appreciation of the deep interrelationships of these entities was communicated to the UNCED and the PIM XX held in November 1992. Also, it was perceived that the ambitious goal of developing new international institutions - arising from a recognition of the holistic character of the environment - like a Biosphere Security Council, international taxation, or the Ocean Assembly could only be feasible in the context of understanding the overall political features of the present world and the ways these might be evolving.