NEW YORK 2 December (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its fifty‑first session at United Nations Headquarters from 14 October to 29 November 2019. There were no plenary parts during the session and its seven weeks were devoted entirely to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.
Ten subcommissions worked during the fifty‑first session. Eight subcommissions continued to consider submissions 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; Sri Lanka; Portugal; and Palau in respect of the North Area (partial amended Submission). Two new subcommissions, namely those established to consider the submission by Spain in respect of the area of Galicia (partial submission) and India (partial Submission), started their consideration of these submissions.
In 2020, the Commission will hold three sessions as follows: the fifty‑second session from 27 January to 13 March, with two plenary parts from 3 to 7 February and from 2 to 6 March, subject to the approval of the General Assembly; the fifty‑third session from 6 July to 21 August, with two plenary parts from 27 to 30 July and from 10 to 14 August, subject to the approval of the General Assembly; and the fifty‑fourth session from 7 October to 24 November, without plenary parts.
Established pursuant to article 2, Annex II to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Commission is a body of twenty‑one 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 less 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. However, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.htm.