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Oceans pivotal to SIDS survival, says foreign minister

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says oceans and seas are pivotal to the economic sustainability of small island developing states (SIDS) such as Jamaica.

Against this background, she welcomes the increased global focus on ocean-related matters, particularly Sustainable Development Goal 14, which urges stakeholder collaboration to “conserve and use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

The minister was speaking at the 25th Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), which opened at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, where the ISA is housed, on Monday.

Jamaica assumed presidency of the General Assembly for the first time, with the minister presiding. She succeeds Mariusz Orion Jędrysek from Poland.

“As the minister with responsibility for ocean matters and the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the ISA, I would like to reaffirm Jamaica's continued commitment to and support for the work of the authority,” she emphasised.

Senator Johnson Smith said Jamaica is “deeply honoured [to] be presiding over the Assembly”.

The minister said she “deeply appreciated” the confidence entrusted in her presidency, and assured the delegates that she is committed to the task of guiding the assembly's affairs towards a productive outcome for the duration of the session.

Several key activities will highlight the five-day session, which runs from July 22 to July 26. These include the inaugural biennial lecture slated for July 23; presentation of the Secretary-General's award for Excellence in Deep Sea research, on July 25; and a high-level panel discussion on the theme, 'Strengthening Capacity Building Opportunities and Initiatives for Developing States', also on July 25.

An autonomous international organisation, the ISA was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS.

The authority is the organisation through which states that are parties to the Convention organise and control activities in the seabed, ocean floor and subsoil beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

At the annual sessions of the ISA, representatives from member states of the authority meet to discuss and formulate the work of the Authority and its Secretariat.


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