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Johnson Smith expresses concern over ISA funding

Published:Wednesday | August 16, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Senator Kamina Johnson Smith

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Kamina Johnson Smith has stated that the viability of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) could be under threat as lack of resources leaves the body hard-pressed to fulfil its mandate.

Specifically, Johnson Smith expressed concern about the state of the Voluntary Trust Fund, which could be exhausted as soon as 2018.

"This presents a clear danger to the representation of developing countries in the Legal and Technical Commission, as well as in the Finance Committee," said Johnson Smith during her presentation to the 23rd session of the ISA regarding the report of the secretary-general on Wednesday.

The Voluntary Trust Fund was established in 2002 to help members of the authority, from developing countries, to participate fully in the meetings of the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee. It is funded by members of the authority and others.

"Should this become a reality, we are all agreed that the work of these organs will be impaired. Adequate financing of the authority also impacts its ability to undertake capacity building in member states, through workshops and internships of which small island developing states, such as Jamaica, are the primary beneficiaries," added Johnson Smith.


... Several countries in arrears

While commending nations which have made voluntary contributions to the trust and endowment funds, Johnson Smith highlighted from the secretary-general's report that several countries, some within the region, were in arrears with their annual contributions for periods in excess of two years.

Johnson Smith added that proposals for the replenishment of the trust fund were to be considered and pursued.

The final report on the periodic review of the ISA in accordance with article 154 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea saw a total of 19 recommendations. Among them is that the secretary-general should be encouraged to consider how to engage more extensively with the scientific community and deep-sea science projects and initiatives related to the area.

In this regard, a financial provision of US$167,800 has been earmarked for 2017-2018.

While taking note of the recommendation, the secretary-general stated that it will consider how to use the resources in the most effective way, including seeking to leverage extra budgetary funds to engage with the scientific community and support relevant initiatives.