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VIII - CO-OPERATION IN THE FIELD OF THE ENVIRONMENT CONCERNING NATURAL RESOURCES SHARED BY TWO OR MORE STATES

416. In considering agenda Item 11 at the 8th and 9th plenary meetings of the session, on 12 and 15 May, 1978 the Governing Council had before it a note by the Executive Director transmitting the final Resources shared by two or more states (UNEP/GC.6/17).

417. The Executive Director, in a brief introductory statement, recounted the history of the intergovernmental working group and pointed out that UNPE had sicharged the mandate entrusted to it by the General Asssembly in resolution 3129 (XXVIII) of 13 December 1973. It was not for the Council, if it so wished to approve the report of the group Invite the General Assembly to adopt the principles and call upon Governments to respect them, and authorize him to transmit the report, on behalf of the Council, to the General Assembly at its thirty-third session as the final report of the Working Group.

418 Delegations generally agreed that the Working Group had achieved constructive work which would enhance international co-operation between states in the field of the environment in general, and for the harmonious conservation and expatiation of shared natural resources in particular. Several delegations wre prepared to go along with the recommendations of the Executive Director contained in paragraph 10 of UNEP/GC.6/17; several others advocated that the Council should recommend to the General Assembly that it adopted the principles and urge member states to respect them, while a few stressed that such a proposal went too far and that they could not endorse it. A number of delegations recalled in that connexion that their views on the whole question of shared natural resources had been fully detailed in previous sessions o f the Governing Council and at the meeting of the Working Group.

419 One delegation stated that the work accomplished by the Group was in accordance with the implementation of General Assembly resolutions 3129 (XXVIII) and of articles 3 and 30 of the charter of economic rights and Duties of states, as well as the principles laid our in the stockholm documents. Another delegation said that the principles of conduct already existed to a large extend, in international customary law, and were already widely relfected in its national legistaltion.

4120. Several delegations stressed that the principle of permanent, absolute and exlucisvbe sovereignty of states over their natural resources was clearly recognized in international law; the work of the Group must therefore be seen as in no way prejudging that sovereignty. In their view, the principles elaborated the Group only had the nature of recommendations, and could not of themselves impose legally obligations on states. Such obligations could be created only through bilateral or multilateral agreements that states concerned mighty freely enter into deal with problems of conservation and utilization of natural resources, taking into account the specific circumstances of such resources. One delegation also said that the words for the guidance of states” should be delted from the report of the group, since they might be construed as a limitation on sovereignty of states over their natural resources.

421. one delegation stressed that the solution of problems of shared natural resources should be sought through friendly consultations on an equal footing between the contries concerned another reiterated its government’s view that international disputes regarding shared natural resources could best be resolved bilaterally. One speaker stated that, while the specific legal scopeand binding nature of the principles would, in the future, derive from their incorporation in international agreements, they nevertheless already had an interisnsic value which would permit their being used as a basis for the development of uniform or at least parallel legislation in various states.

422. A number of delegaions said that work should be continued towards acceptable definination of the concept of “shared natural resources”, which was needed for a proper interpretation and implementaion of othe principles. One delegation expressed the view that a definition was not necessary in order to make the principles operable. Anather delegation pointed out that, while lack of time had not permitted the group to arrive at such a definition, it was clear from paragraph 16 of its report that it did discuss, the question would have to be discussed in some other forum before the work as a whole could be considered complete since it was an itergral part of that work. The same delegation also said that the varius reservations and declations mentioned in paragraph 15 of the report of the Group would have to be taken into account in future work on the subject. It would also been desireble, in its view, that an approach paper indicating elements for a definition, prepared by UNEP consultants, be made availbale to maember states for their comments to permit in-depth consideration of such elements by the working group.

423. Action by the governing council

At the 12th plenary meeting of the session on 19 may 1978, the governing council considered a draft decision on co-operation in the field of the environment concerning natural resources shared by two or more states submitted by the president.

244 The representative of Brazil said that his delegation would be unable to join the consensus on the draft decision because of reservations already expressed at previous sessions of the governing council and reiterated in the report of the working group.

245. The representative of Mexico said that his delegation could not endorse the tow operative paragraphs of the draft decision and could not join the consensus for reasons already stated.

426. Referring to his delegation’s position as stated during the general debate, the representative of China said that if the draft decision was put to the vote his delegation would abstain.

427. The representative of Colombia commended the work of the working Group and the efforts of UNEP to provide an internationally accepted legal basis for co-operation in the field of the environment concerning shared natural resources. Nevertheless, his delegation could not join the consensus, since that might imply over-all approval of the draft principles. It reserved its position regarding the substance of those draft principles until their consideration by the General Assembly.

428. The draft decision was then adopted by consensus (decision 6/14). 77/

429. The representative of Japan said that his delegation reserved its position regarding the draft principles because of possible legal implications in the future.

430. The representative of Ghana expressed gratification at the working Group’s success in formulating the draft principles with a wide measure of agreement. The report represented a worth-while effort and could properly be submitted to the General Assembly. He hoped the Assembly would be able to commend the principles to states as guidelines worthy of observance in the Interests of international peace and harmony.

431. The representative of Argentina said that her delegation welcomed the adoption of the decision, but would have liked the General Assembly to be invited to urge states to respect the draft principles of conduct.

432. The representative of Spain said the fact that his delegation had joined the consensus on the decision should not be taken to imply a change in its position regarding shared natural resources. Spain reserved its position on the content of the report of the working Group until such time as the general Assembly took up the item.

433. The representative of the Neverlands said that his delegation was satisfied with the consensus reached, although it recognized that some of the principles needed to be improved upon and although it would have preferred the Governing Council to invite the General Assembly to request states to respect the principles.

434 The representative of France said he would have preferred the Governing Council to invite the General Assembly to adopt the report of the Group, rather than to adopt the draft principles, as stated in paragraph 2 of the decision.

435 The representatives of Somalia and Turkey said that their delegations shared the views expressed by the representative of France.

436 The representative of Iraq said his delegation welcomed the consensus adoption of the decision, and strongly endorsed the invitation to the General Assembly to adopt the draft principles.

77/Idem.