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05.12.2005 General News

Law of the Sea workshop opens in Accra

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Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - A five-day regional workshop on the Law of the Sea opened in Accra for 50 participants from 18 African countries bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

The workshop is to help the participants to understand the technicalities involved in the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

It is also to broaden the knowledge of the participants through the exchange of information and expertise on issues relating to the Law of the Sea and how developing countries such as those in the region could fulfil their obligations and also maximise potential benefits under the Convention

This law recognises the area beyond national jurisdictions as the "Common Heritage of Mankind", until a particular nation makes a submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf beyond 200 nautical miles, for such an area. The 50 participants attending are made up of experts in geology, geophysics, hydrology and maritime law. They would seek ways to regulate the use of the oceans and the exploitation of its resources for their respective countries.

Addressing the participants, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, said 14 years after the world realised the vast potentials for economic development that resided in the oceans, and after intense negotiations, the world found expression in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Nana Akufo-Addo said the recognition by humanity of the vast potentials for economic development that reside in the oceans of the world and their spaces led the development of the regulatory framework for the international community.

The Convention on the Law of the Sea, he noted, came into force on November 16, 1994, 12 years after it was concluded on December 10, 1982. He said the Government of Ghana realised the importance of taking advantage of the opportunities embodied in the Convention and the economic benefits, which could accrue to Ghana and other sister African countries.

"The implementation of the Convention, however, particularly in relation to the responsibility and opportunity for States under Article 76 of the Convention, demands the mastery of certain technicalities which spells the need for training programmes such as this one." He said the workshop would provide an opportunity to countries in the region to explore and exploit natural resources in the continental shelf for the development of their respective countries. Mr Ayikoi Otoo, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justices, whose speech was read for him, said the comprehensive nature of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea made it a little complicated, hence imposing a challenge to all those who dealt with it. Mrs Getrude Blake, Senior Legal Adviser, Division of UN Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, said countries that had ratified the Convention were expected to make some submission to the Commission on Delimitation of the Continental Shelf before the end of 2009. She, therefore, urged African countries to endeavour to do so before the deadline. 05 Dec. 05