At a ceremony held on 12 March as part of Mauritius National Day celebrations, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, the Hon Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam and the President of the Republic of Seychelles, H E Mr James Michel, signed an historic Treaty, to provide for the joint management of a vast area of seabed for the benefit of present and future generations.
Attending the signing ceremony as a guest of the Government of Mauritius, Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Ransford Smith described the Treaty as “groundbreaking in international practice and representing a great milestone for both Mauritius and Seychelles”. Mr Smith also commended the two countries on their “unprecedented co-operation, goodwill and hard work to achieve an ambitious goal.”
The signing of the Treaty took place at Clarisse House, the Prime Minister’s residence. It follows the endorsement by the United Nations in April 2011 of a Joint Submission by Mauritius and Seychelles for 400,000 sq km of seabed.
The Commonwealth Secretariat has been a partner in this work since 2008 through the provision of legal and technical expertise under the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC). The Secretariat supported both Mauritius and Seychelles during the preparation and presentation of the Joint Submission and later assisted the two countries to prepare the Joint Management Treaty.
Mr Joshua Brien, Legal Adviser, who has managed the project for the Secretariat said: “The Treaty is the first of its kind and unprecedented in scope, covering an area of extended continental shelf, making it the largest area of maritime space to be jointly managed anywhere in the world.”
The Treaty is also unique in that it provides for the management of the resources of the seabed for the mutual benefit of both countries. It embraces international best standards and practices concerning offshore exploration, development, conservation of marine species and the protection of the marine environment.