Fiji Speaks at Special Session to Commemorate 20th Anniversary of International Seabed Authority
A special session of the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) was held in Kingston, Jamaica today, to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the International Seabed Authority. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller of Jamaica opened the special session and paid tribute to the founders of the Authority and the far-sighted diplomats who created the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The ISA special session was addressed by Ambassador Tommy Koh of Singapore, the President of the Third UN Conference on the Law of the Sea 1980-1982, and by Ambassador Satya Nandan of Fiji, Secretary-General of the ISA 1996-2008. Both diplomats were central to the historic creation of UNCLOS.
Other speakers at the special session included Judge Jose Jesus, Chairman of the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea, 1987-1994, Judge Vladimir Golitsyn, President of the Seabed Disputes Chamber, and Professor Hasjim Djalal, first President of the Assembly of the ISA in 1996.
Speaking on behalf of the Member States of the ISA's Asia-Pacific Group, Fiji's Ambassador Peter Thomson said the Group paid tribute to the founders of UNCLOS and the ISA. He said that since it's founding in 1994, the ISA had made remarkable progress and had now issued 26 plans of work for the exploration of seabed resources in the global oceanic commons.
The Asia-Pacific Group recognizes peace, development and international cooperation as the theme of our times, with marine governance part and parcel of the international order. Ambassador Thomson said the Group expected the ISA and Member States to ensure the rights and interest of developing countries in international seabed affairs.
Speaking later at the Special Session in his national capacity, Ambassador Thomson said that Fiji was particularly proud that one of Fiji's most distinguished sons, Ambassador Satya Nandan, who had played a key role in the creation of UNCLOS, went on to serve as the founding Secretary-General of ISA from 1996 to 2008.
Ambassador Thomson recalled that 32 years ago, Fiji was the first State to ratify UNCLOS. He said that at the time, Fiji had seen UNCLOS as a signal that a just and equitable oceans governance system could be achieved for the benefit of all mankind. He said that Fiji had not been disappointed in the ensuing decades.