PAPUA New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia will be making a formal presentation of their work concerning their joint-claim, for an extended continental shelf, to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLCS) in New York on April 12.
The three countries are the Ontong Java Plateau (OJP) Joint Submitting States.
They are among a total of 10 Pacific Island countries, seven of which have already made submission to the UNCLCS, in advance of the May 13, 2009, UNCLCS deadline.
The OJP states submitted their joint claim for the Ontong Java Submarine Plateau last May and are 32nd in the queue, of 52 countries, which have submitted extended continental shelf claims.
This intending presentation does not affect PNG’s position in the queue.
Each country will defend its presentation before a sub-commission, which has yet to be established for this purpose, at a time set by the UNCLCS.
The Pacific Island countries met at the School of Geosciences, Sydney University, from Feb 8-19 to thoroughly prepare the required statements for the OJP submission to reflect their position before the UNCLCS.
This was the sixth workshop for technical preparations relating to Article 76 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
This process began in 2006 when technical desktop studies were completed for each country.
Fiji and the Cook Islands have already made their formal presentations last year.
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia are scheduled to appear jointly, followed by Palau.
Technical partnerships have been established with Geosciences Australia, UNEP GRID, the Commonwealth Secretariat, and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), which are the institutions that have guided the Pacific countries in making their submissions.
The OJP presentation will reaffirm the joint submission by the three countries to the UN last May, based on what they claim is their legal entitlement.
This entitlement to the OJP is an extension of their submerged land territories, consistent with UNCLOS, based on legal and technical criteria.
The focus of the presentation will be technical and will show how the three countries have applied the relevant criteria to this entitlement.
The single submission between the three countries is underpinned by a joint MoU, which was signed in March last year, to cooperate in the OJP submission to the UNCLCS.