ISA member states urged to pay arrears

Friday, August 18, 2017

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MEMBER states of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in arrears with their annual contributions to the body's Voluntary Trust Fund are being urged to bring the payments up to date quickly.

This call comes from Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, who noted that several countries are in arrears for more than two years.

“We urge such State parties, therefore, to fulfil their obligations to the authority as soon as possible,” she said, while addressing the 23rd Session of the ISA at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston on Wednesday.

The fund was established for the purpose of covering the cost of participation of members of the Legal and Technical Commission from developing countries and members of the Finance Committee from developing countries in the meetings of the commission and of the committee.

Senator Johnson Smith said settling arrears is crucial given that the money could be exhausted by 2018, noting that the authority cannot effectively perform its mandates without the requisite financial resources, and its viability could be threatened.

“This presents a clear danger to the representation of developing countries in the Legal and Technical Commission as well as in the Finance Committee. Should this become a reality, we are all agreed that the work of these organs will not only become compromised, but null and void,” she argued.

She further noted that adequate financing of the authority also impacts its ability to undertake capacity-building in member states, through workshops and internships, of which Small Island Developing States (SIDS), such as Jamaica, are the primary beneficiaries.

The minister commended those countries that have made voluntary contributions to the trust and endowment funds, “and strongly encourage other member states to do likewise”.

“Other proposals for the replenishment of the trust fund should, of course, be considered and pursued,” she suggested.

In the meantime, Senator Johnson Smith said Jamaica takes note of the secretariat's participation in the common system of the United Nations, which allows for cost-saving measures and the streamlining of operations in key areas such as human resources, procurement, information technology, travel and sharing common premises.

“In these challenging times, the pursuit of cost-saving and efficiency measures is to be commended, as the optimal use of scarce resources is a priority for all member states. In so doing, we should be mindful, however, that the Authority's effectiveness should not be compromised,” she said.

Headquartered at the Jamaica Conference Centre, ISA is an autonomous international organisation established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention.

The Authority is the body through which State parties to the Convention organise and control activities in the ocean, particularly with a view to administering its resources.

— JIS

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