IHO S-23WG draft summery record


 23 April 2012 1410-1730
The Conference took note of the report.
Report on work to revise IHO Publication S-23 – “Limits of Oceans and Seas”

The PRESIDENT invited comments on the report as a whole and, in particular, on the issues relating to the future of Publication S-23

Captain KORTENOEVEN (Netherlands) reiterated that his country took no position, as before, on the naming of the sea area between the Japanese archipelago and the Korean peninsula.

Dr Shigeru KATO (Japan) (made a statement1.)

IGA FRACHON (France) said that, in the absence of an agreed technical approach, he could not express a view on any specific dispute over the naming of an area. In view of the need for a publication to be used for cartographic and hydrographic purposes, he hoped that the interested parties could resolve their dispute so that consensus could be reached on a new edition of Publication S-23. Given the importance of IHO’s numerous other commitments, he recommended that the resources devoted to the question of updating the publication should be limited until either the dispute had been resolved or a general methodology had been approved.

Ambassador PAIK (Republic of Korea) made a statement1.

Mr. KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) made a statement2.

Rear Admiral ANDREASEN (United States of America) expressed his country’s view that Publication S-23 was an important reference for Member States in the publication of charts and related documentation, for mariners to know which sea areas they were in, and for all those involved in marine Geographic Information Systems. It established the technical boundaries of the areas concerned and, in the absence of a new edition, there could be still further politicization of our work through national adoption of politically derived limits rather than unique water bodies defined by coastal shapes or unique oceanographic character such as the Antarctic Convergence zone limit of the Southern Ocean. The United States does not want to see “no” S-23. He was therefore in favour of pursuing work on the revision of S-23. However, that work had been in progress for 35 years and not a single page had yet been updated. In his country’s view, that reflected badly on IHO, an organization which it held in the highest regard. The United States considers it important to find an acceptable way forward. In view of the failure to revise the publication as a whole he therefore suggested adopting a high-level approach, on a chapter-by-chapter basis, which could lead to the revision of a significant number of chapters. A proposal along those lines would be submitted to the Secretariat for distribution to Member States, and the Conference could decide whether to approve it after the customary 24-hour consideration period.

Mr. NG (China) observed that Member States were clearly committed to the task of finalizing a new edition of Publication S-23, and had devoted a great deal of time, energy and resources to the task. He acknowledged the importance of reaching a consensus on its content and Member States would like to see it updated. However, any agreement reached between coastal States on the naming of a particular area must be respected. In 2005, China and Viet Nam had jointly registered with the United Nations two sets of maps reflecting a mutual agreement on the delimitation of their territorial waters, EEZ and continental shelf, and bearing the names Beibu Gulf/ Băc Bô Gulf. That agreement had not been accepted as evidence of the need to amend the information in S-23. Furthermore, China had registered with the United Nations its own system for the naming of land masses and islands, but that too had been rejected by Members of the Working Group. After nearly four decades of effort, no progress had been made. His delegation would have no objection to the Group continuing its work of revising S-23, but nor would it stand in the way of a decision to scrap the publication.

Colonel ALSHAMSI (United Arab Emirates) suggested giving the countries concerned more time to reach an agreement.

Commander BASHIR (Pakistan) endorsed the previous speaker’s suggestion. The S-23 Working Group had been in existence for only a few years and had met on just two occasions, most of the work having been done through paperwork and electronic communications. That did not suffice for the resolution of such an important and long-standing international issue. The Group should therefore continue its work on Publication S-23, and the countries concerned should have more time and support to present their respective cases and settle their differences.

Rear Admiral GAVIOLA (Peru), suggested that thet the questions presented by the President of the Directing Committee concerning the treatment of Publication S-23 should be put to a vote.

Rear Admiral GUY (Director, IHB), speaking at the invitation of the PRESIDENT, supported the proposal by the representative of the United States. His own view was that any political decision on the naming issue was a matter for the States concerned. Considering that the publication of S-23 reflected on the public image and technical ability of the Organization, it was important at some point to discuss whether it should be abandoned completely and replaced by another publication with terms of reference capable of accommodating disputed issues.

Captain CABELLO (Ecuador) drew attention to the fact that a number of aspects touched on by the Working Group, which was a multilateral body, had been dealt with on a bilateral basis. The countries concerned should settle their differences by consensus and then another working group should be formed.

The PRESIDENT summed up the various viewpoints expressed during the discussion. In the absence of any objection, he took it that the Conference wished to consider the proposal to be submitted by the United States of America, within the statutory 24-hour period.

It was so agreed.

The PRESIDENT closed the meeting at 17:30.

24 April 2012 1400-1730

Captain LOWELL (United States of America) recalled that after the previous day’s discussion on the challenging question of Publication S-23, which in the view of his delegation and many others was important but outdated, the United States had submitted a proposal suggesting a possible way forward. It had hoped that a chapter-by-chapter approach to the revision of S-23 would allow progress to be made on those chapters where there was agreement. Such an approach would depend on the support of all the Member States affected, which however did not appear to be forthcoming. The United States was therefore withdrawing its proposal. It nevertheless remained committed to finding a solution that would allow for the much-needed updating of S-23.

25April 2012 0910-1220

The PRESIDENT asked the Conference whether it wished to continue the discussion on a 4th edition of Publication S-23 in an attempt to reach a consensus.

Mr. HIRAMATSU (Japan) said that neither his Government nor that of the Republic of Korea disagreed with the view of the United States delegation, that Publication S-23 could be revised in a way that would not undermine the document’s integrity. He suggested setting up a working group with the remit of ensuring that the revision process allowed for part or parts of the document to be revised swiftly and flexibly; that it should cover all sea areas around the world; and that all sections of the document would be regarded as integral parts of the whole, regardless of differences in the dates of revision. The proposed working group should try to finish its work in time to report to the 5th Extraordinary International Hydrographic Conference. His suggestion should enable the IHO to overcome the current impasse over the name Japan Sea, as well as to deal with possible future disputes over sea names. He reiterated the importance for Japan of retaining the name Japan Sea. While maintaining its basic position, his Government had accepted the proposal of the President of the Directing Committee in the interests of the IHO as a whole.

While the Conference President then summarized the proposal by Japan, Ms PAIK (Republic of Korea) then requested that the proposal by the representative of Japan be made available in writing. She said that the Republic of Korea had commented upon the basic idea of a chapter-by-chapter revision previously, but it was not clear which parts of the document were being referred to. Given the extensive work already carried out in her country on the new edition, she would prefer it to be published in its entirety.

Mr. AL KIYUMI (Oman) said that before proceeding with a chapter-by-chapter revision, agreement must be reached on the wording of the preamble and the inclusion of the suggested “important notice”.

The PRESIDENT said that as he understood it, the proposal by the delegation of Japan did not include any discussion of the preamble.

Mr. NG (China) asked whether, in reality, continuing the negotiations would serve any useful purpose. The technical significance of Publication S-23 might have been over-emphasized and its increased political sensitivity under-estimated in recent years. It was questionable whether the IHO, as a technical organization, should continue to be involved with a political issue. His own delegation had refrained from making any proposal, in order not to waste more time and resources. The matter had been a bone of contention within the Organization for between 35 and 40 years; it was, therefore, unrealistic to imagine that it could be resolved in a comparatively short time frame. It was time to move on.

Commodore NAIRN (Australia) said he had no objection to either the establishment of a working group, although he would not wish to participate in it, or the suggestion by the representative of China. His country had always striven to ensure that the names and limits of oceans and seas were available in official IHO documents in a consolidated format. Pending a new edition of S-23, Australia had decided to publish its own information about the seas and oceans around Australia. That version was available on the AHO web site, and would remain there until there was a suitable alternative.

Mr. HIRAMATSU (Japan) requested more time for Member States to reflect on the matter before Conference took a decision. He further requested a roll-call vote.

The PRESIDENT agreed to the request for more time, and asked the representative of Japan to prepare a written proposal for consideration by Member States. The discussion would then be suspended and resumed during the afternoon session, at which time the formal proposal would be considered.

Mr. NG (China) observed that in paragraph 10 of document CONF.18/WP.1/Add.1 it was stated that if Member States wished to pursue the development of an up-to-date version of S-23 they should indicate how that could be achieved, noting that options had already been presented in the report. If they did not wish to proceed, then they must decide whether the current, but out-of-date 3rd edition of S-23, which had not been revised for nearly 60 years, could continue to be an active, but ineffective, IHO reference publication, or whether it should be discontinued. Member States had received the document well in advance of the Conference, and had therefore had ample time to form an opinion on the matter.

Captain BERMEJO BARO (Spain) agreed with the previous speaker that a decision on the way forward had effectively been taken already.

The PRESIDENT replied that the proposal by the delegation of Japan would be distributed to the Conference, and the matter would be taken up again during the afternoon session. Consideration of Proposals

25 April 2012 1420-1730
CONSIDERATION OF PROPOSALS (CONF.18/G/02/Rev1) (Agenda item 3) (continued) PRO 9 - SUGGESTION ON THE REVISION OF THE S-23 (CONF.18/G/02/Rev1/Pro 9)

Mr. HIRAMATSU (Japan) introduced his delegation’s Proposal 9, on the revision of S-23. It represented an attempt by his Government to advance the revision of S-23 in a practical and flexible manner. The main aim of the proposal was to establish a small working group, made up of the countries concerned and other interested Member States, to discuss the revision of S-23. He would welcome any suggestions to improve the proposal. He emphasized that Japan was anxious to pursue the discussions with the parties concerned.

The PRESIDENT explained the procedure for proposals submitted during the Conference. The Conference had first to decide whether to consider the proposal. If it decided to take up the proposal, it could then discuss when to deal with it. Mr. KIM (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said he did not support the proposal. With a view to completing the publication of S-23 as promptly as possible, he recommended publishing the fourth draft, leaving the page relating to the Sea of Japan or the East Sea blank. The third edition, which was now out of date, should be abandoned. If agreement could not be reached, another option would be to abolish the S-23 publication in its entirety.

Captain CHEN (China) said that the proposal submitted by the delegation of Japan was very similar to the one submitted earlier in the week by the delegation of the United States. which had since been withdrawn. He welcomed that delegation’s decision to withdraw it. Moreover, the new proposal was not clear. It referred to the format of the revision of the publication, whereas the point at issue was its content. The lack of novelty in the proposal could result in the repetition of arguments already advanced, and he could not support its being considered.

Ms. PAIK (Republic of Korea) agreed. The new proposal was also very similar to a proposal considered at the XVIIth International Hydrographic Conference in 2007. She did not support its being considered by the Conference.

Colonel REGALADO GOMEZ (Cuba) agreed with the previous speaker. The matter at issue was political, and fell outside the remit of the Conference and the IHO. The countries concerned should discuss it and reach an agreement in the framework of the United Nations. His own country had decided that pending agreement on the issue, the area in question would be designated the Sea of Japan/East Sea.

Captain BERMEJO BARO (Spain) suggested taking a vote by a show of hands on whether to consider the proposal.

The PRESIDENT explained the procedure for a simple vote. A roll call would be taken in order to count the number of Member States present and voting. Those in favour of considering the proposal would then be asked to raise their flags, which would be counted. The same procedure would be repeated to count those against and those abstaining. It was not a roll call vote.

Ms. PAIK (Republic of Korea) said that in the absence of express support for the proposal by the delegation of Japan, it was unclear why a time-consuming vote should be held.

The PRESIDENT explained that according to the Rules of Procedure, a vote was necessary when one had been requested by a Member State. The delegation of Spain had suggested taking a vote. Captain

BERMEJO BARO (Spain) pointed out that he had merely suggested a vote by a show of hands, not a roll call vote. A roll call vote could be taken as a last resort if a simple vote did not produce a majority.

Following a count, the PRESIDENT announced that 67 Member States with voting rights were present, making the required two-thirds majority 34 votes.

A vote was taken by a show of hands, the results of which were:
In favour: 1
Against: 4
Abstain: 62
Proposal 9, Suggestion on the revision of the S-23, was not considered.

Dr. HIRAMATSU (Japan) requested a postponement of any further discussion of the S-23 issue until later in the Conference, to allow time for further consultations. The PRESIDENT suggested that the S-23 issue should be taken up at the next session.

It was so agreed.

26 April 2012 0910 -1235
Report on work to revise IHO Publication S-23 – “Limits of Oceans and Seas” (CONF.18/WP/1/Add.1) (continued)

The PRESIDENT said that as no proposals on the agenda item were now before the Conference, and there had not been any positive outcome from the work of the Working Group on S-23, the Conference could not take any decision on the matter, apart from noting the report on work to revise IHO Publication S-23.

Commodore NAIRN (Australia), supported by Rear Admiral ANDREASEN (United States of America), objected to any withdrawal of IHO Publication S-23. No consensus had been reached on the matter.

Ms. PAIK (Republic of Korea) referred to an error in paragraph 5 of the report of the Working Group on S-23.

The PRESIDENT suggested that her delegation submit a reservation concerning that paragraph.

Ms. PAIK (Republic of Korea) said that a reservation would not be appropriate, because the paragraph contained a factual error.

The PRESIDENT OF THE DIRECTING COMMITTEE said that any necessary editorial corrections would be made to the report. Otherwise, it should be borne in mind that none of the work done by the Working Group on S-23, including matters mentioned in its paragraph 5, had yet been considered by Member States.

The PRESIDENT invited the Conference to take note of the report, subject to any necessary editorial corrections.

The Conference took note of the report.

The PRESIDENT said he would take it that the Conference did not wish to take any further decision on S-23 at present.

It was so agreed.

Ms. PAIK (Republic of Korea) said that the discussion on how to proceed with the publication of the new edition of S-23 had been both meaningful and useful. Her delegation much appreciated the support expressed by many delegations concerning the inclusion of the term “East Sea” in the new S-23. The use of that term concurrently with that of “Japan Sea” was the only fair and realistic way forward. Her country would spare no effort to achieve agreement among the parties concerned on the name of the sea area between the Korean peninsula and the Japanese archipelago. She looked forward to the early publication of a new edition of S-23.

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