During this morning’s plenary session, NGOs were excluded from further discussions at the BBNJ meeting, as States were moved into ‘closed’ working groups.
In contravention of the Aarhus Convention and following similar behaviour at the meeting last year, the Chair ruled that the meeting would continue behind closed doors.
The High Seas Alliance is lodging a statement of concern and asking for the decision to be overturned.
NGO STATEMENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS OCEANS MEETING AUGUST 19-23, 2013
The NGOs attending this meeting, which include NRDC, Greenpeace, WWF, International Programme on the State of the Ocean, Pew and the Ecology Action Centre represent the High Seas Alliance and the Deep Sea Conservation coalition and in turn hundreds of organizations and tens of millions of citizens from across the world. We are gravely concerned at the exclusion of civil society and the many voices and interests we represent from these deliberations. The high seas are the responsibility of all humankind, providing ecosystem services and food security for all. Negotiations deciding on their future must be conducted in a transparent and democratic manner and not behind closed doors.
The exclusion of civil society is in breach of the Aarhus Convention, a Convention specifically on public participation in environmental decision-making. The Convention has 46 Parties, including the European Union, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The Almaty Guidelines, which were developed under the Convention specifically to address international meetings such as this, state that participation of the public concerned should be as broad as possible and that an international forum, or a process within it, should be open to the participation of the public.
The conservation and sustainable use of the oceans is a global priority and a common interest. We call on Governments to restore transparency into the BBNJ process by opening the deliberations to civil society representatives.
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