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Oct 23, 2019

The contribution of Chile to the law of the sea

Strathmore Law School in conjunction with the Embassy of the Republic of Chile held a public lecture on the Contribution of Chile to the Law of the Sea at the Microsoft Policy Innovation Center, Sir Thomas More Building on 3rd October 2019. The lecture brought together professionals and academics in the field of Public International Law.

Her Excellency, Ms. Carolina Valdivia Torres, the Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Chile began by highlighting how International Law of the Sea has impacted ocean governance in Chile. Ocean governance is crucial to Chile since its maritime zones (ocean territory) is more than four times its land territory. It is therefore the cornerstone of its economy and a source of livelihood for the majority of the Chileans.

She also mentioned how Chile and Kenya have, on previous occasions, partnered on the international plane. In particular, she revisited the joint position held by Chile and Kenya on the establishment of the Exclusive Economic Zone in the 1970s. This played a significant role in the adoption of the concept ‘Exclusive Economic Zone’ in the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea. She acknowledged the steps that Kenya has undertaken in recent history to promote ocean governance such as co-hosting the global Blue Economy Conference with Canada and hosting the inaugural Africa Climate Week in 2018.

Her Excellency also addressed the challenges facing ocean governance globally, among them, climate change, pollution, deep sea mining, human dimension of the oceans, delimitation of maritime boundaries, regulation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

She then suggested some solutions that the community of nations should undertake to resolve these challenges. She stated that full implementation of the Paris Agreement would help mitigate the complexities arising from the effects of climate change such as rise in sea level, increased acidity of the oceans and further warming of the oceans. This is critical to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 14, which talks about conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources.

To curb inter-state conflicts arising from mining in the deep seabed, she proposed that developing states such as Chile and Kenya should take a common stance in the negotiations on the Mining Code that are currently ongoing. With regard to the regulation of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, she suggested that developing nations should adopt a common position with regard to: ownership and sharing of benefits (monetary and non-monetary) from marine genetic resources, and capacity building and transfer of technology from developed states to developing states.

Finally, she addressed the human dimension of the oceans. She asserted that ocean-related employment such as sea faring and fishing should uphold the universal principles of dignity and equality.

This article was written by Kelvin Mbatia Wachira.

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