Aerial view of Va'vau, Tonga
19 November 2009
The Commonwealth has, to date, helped 15 countries lodge claims for additional areas of seabed, which will enable them to access and manage potentially lucrative living and non-living marine resources including oil and gas reserves, mineral deposits and sedentary marine species
Legal and technical advice and assistance was provided through all stages of their respective submissions to the United Nations Commission on the Outer Limits of the Continental Shelf. This process is as set out under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a multilateral treaty that establishes a framework of rules and principles to govern all ocean space.
The combined figure for the additional seabed that has been secured by all of these submissions is over 2 million square kilometres – the same size as Mexico.
The establishment of agreed maritime boundaries is also important for the conduct of maritime law enforcement activity to combat piracy and illicit drug smuggling.
The preparation of a submission is a significant undertaking that involves a consideration of complex legal and scientific issues. As well as legal advisers, the Secretariat also provided scientific and technical experts to provide advice to the government teams as required.
The 15 countries who have received assistance are: the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka and Tonga.
Law of the sea