JIS News

As Jamaica marks 60 years of Independence this year, the country’s historic role in the development and adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is being hailed.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said that the country’s contribution ranks among the island’s proudest and most significant contribution to multilateralism since Independence.

She was speaking at a reception to mark the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention, held at the Ministry in Kingston on August 3.

UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 in Montego Bay and entered into force on November 16, 1994. Also called the Montego Bay Convention, it provides a comprehensive legal framework governing all activities and uses of the world’s seas and oceans.

The Convention establishes general obligations for safeguarding the marine environment and protecting freedom of scientific research on the high seas.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), headquartered in Jamaica, was established under the Convention. It is mandated to organise, regulate and control all mineral-related activities in the International Seabed Area for the benefit of mankind.

At the special reception, Minister Johnson Smith said that 40th anniversary milestone holds special significance for Jamaica, as it coincides with the country’s diamond jubilee.

She paid tribute to the Jamaican stalwarts who made an invaluable contribution to the development and adoption of the Convention.

“The hopes, ambitions and aspirations of our forebears in establishing a robust, balanced, comprehensive and workable regime for regulating deep seabed activities are now firmly within our grasp and dare I say, our responsibility,” she said.

“Our work… must continue to deliver on the legacy of our forebears and remain true to the spirit in which the Convention was progressively developed, that is, with care and a deep commitment to protecting the deep-sea marine environment and its ecosystems,” the Minister added.

Secretary General at ISA, His Excellency Michael Lodge, in his remarks, hailed Jamaica’s contribution to UNCLOS and for hosting the Authority.

“The fact that a small island developing state has been able to do that, I believe, is a really remarkable achievement,” he said.

For her part, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ambassador Sheila Sealy Monteith, noted that Jamaica will remain committed to strengthening the Convention “beyond the next 40 years”.

“The ISA acts as a steward of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction and its resources. Jamaica is, therefore, very pleased to note the ISA’s continued efforts to mobilise new strategic partnerships which support the contribution of UNCLOS towards the achievement of the UN sustainable development agenda,” she said.

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