Submarine Cables and marine Biological Diversity of areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) was the topic of discussion on Monday, 29 August 2016 during a well-attended side event held at the United Nations headquarters in New York City, New York. The International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) presented on the organisation’s role within the ocean community and highlighted its newly published and informative white paper on the subject of submarine cables and BBNJ.
Figure 2 - ICPC Delegates at UN
Source: Submarine Telecoms Forum
The successful side event was part of the 2nd Session of the Preparatory Committee established by General Assembly resolution 69/292: Development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. ICPC was represented by its Chairman: Graham Evans, Vice Chairman: Nigel Irvine, ICPC’s International Cable Law Advisor: Douglas Burnett, Robert Wargo from AT&T and James Herron from TE SubCom. ICPC is grateful to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the EastWest Institute for co-hosting the event with the ICPC.
With about 45 diplomats and NGO’s in attendance, ICPC’s expert panel discussed submarine cables in relation to: the environment, cable owners, route surveyors and ship operators as well as governance of the oceans. A senior European diplomat, who attended all of the side events at the first PrepCom, was subsequently reported as saying the ICPC side event was the best so far because it, as well as the white paper, provided substantive evidence in a real factual context and not general theory for the diplomats to consider. The ICPC also supplied samples of deep water submarine cables (typically 14-22 millimetres in diameter) and answered insightful questions from attendees after its presentation.
The presenters at the workshop demonstrated how cables are environmentally neutral to benign in BBNJ area.
Interested parties are welcome to download ICPC’s white paper and full presentation via: https://iscpc.org/news/.
Source : Submarine Telecoms Forum
ANALYSIS: Since taking over the General Managership of the ICPC two years ago, Keith Schofield of Pioneer Consulting has helped to guide this long-standing organisation out of obscurity and navel-contemplation into the limelight where it is able to play a critical role in advocating for the broad interests of the industry.
Exposure at the United Nations is yet another high-profile event organized by the ICPC after recent events held in East Africa and in Indonesia to inform Regulators and other government officials about submarine cables.
Despite the undertone of hype in the article, these informational meetings represent an important opportunity for the industry to inform and educate government officials in the hope that, as the population of sea-bed users grows, actions taken in areas Beyond National Jurisdiction give due consideration to the strategic nature of submarine cables laid in those areas.
Of course, one meeting with the UN will not solve all issues or obviate all future challenges but the increased proactivity of the ICPC is a huge improvement over the past approach which was to believe that interests from different groups within the ICPC could never be reconciled to allow the organization to express an opinion.
Julian Rawle, Author
Thought leadership articles and commentary on developments related to the subsea fibre optic cable industry can be found here.