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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2010

CANZ Statement:Agenda item 81 Consideration of Prevention of Transboundary Harm from Hazardous Substances and Allocation of Loss in the Case of Such Harm

Statement on behalf of CANZ by Natalie Ryan Legal Adviser, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 21 October 2010

Madam Chair,

I have the honour of speaking today on behalf of Canada, Australia and my own country, New Zealand.

In today’s context of a world with limited resources and pressures to develop many resources in ever more challenging circumstances, utilising ever more specialised technologies and sometimes close to the boundaries of national jurisdiction, the potential for transboundary impacts of hazardous activities is ever-present and likely to grow. The gravity of the risk of transboundary harm from hazardous activities reinforces the importance of a coherent, widely-supported set of general standards of conduct and practice for the prevention of transboundary harm and allocation of loss if such harm arises.

CANZ therefore welcomed the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of Resolution 61/36 on 4 December 2006 and Resolution 62/68 on 6 December 2007, on the prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and allocation of loss in the case of such harm.

The draft articles on the prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities and the draft principles on the allocation of loss arising in the case of such harm respectively attached to those resolutions represent the culmination of extensive work by the International Law Commission at the request of the General Assembly.

By adopting Resolutions 61/36 and 62/68 and commending the principles and articles to governments, CANZ considers the General Assembly has already confirmed their status as authoritative guidance for the conduct of all States in relation to the prevention of transboundary harm and the allocation of loss in the event of such harm.  CANZ is confident that the stature and influence of the principles and articles in international law will continue to grow as they are referred to by member States in the conduct of their activities and their international relations and are drawn on by courts and tribunals at both the domestic and international levels. 

Madam Chair,

CANZ again welcomes the valuable work done on this topic by the International Law Commission and strongly encourages States to be guided by the prevention articles and the principles on the allocation of loss, including when negotiating relevant bilateral agreements or sector specific multilateral agreements at the regional or global level.

We see no added benefit in attempting to transform the principles and articles into the more binding form of a convention without broad and unified support from member States for that course of action. The principles and articles in their current form, as they have been adopted by the General Assembly, are potentially of more value than a convention which either does not have broad and unified support from States or simply through inertia or other priorities does not in fact secure widespread ratification or accession.

CANZ therefore acknowledges and reiterates that the articles and principles in their present form are a major contribution to the achievement of a consistent, coherent and fair international regime for transboundary harm from hazardous activities, which will continue to develop in significance.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

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