Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf Concludes Fifty-Ninth Session

NEW YORK, 7 December (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) ― The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its fifty-ninth session at United Nations Headquarters, from 4 October to 21 November.

No plenary meetings were held during the session and its seven weeks were devoted entirely to the technical examination of submissions at the geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities of the Division.  Members of the Commission also participated in internal exchanges of views on general scientific, technical and other relevant topics.

Nine subcommissions held meetings during the session, namely the subcommissions established for the consideration of the submissions made by Mauritius in respect of the region of Rodrigues Island (partial submission); Palau in respect of the North Area (partial amended submission); Portugal; Spain in respect of the area of Galicia (partial submission); Trinidad and Tobago; and Namibia; as well as revised submissions made by Brazil in respect of the Brazilian Equatorial Margin (partial revised submission); Cook Islands concerning the Manihiki Plateau (revised submission); and Iceland in respect of the western, southern and south-eastern parts of the Reykjanes Ridge (partial revised submission).

The subcommissions also met with the delegations from Brazil, Cook Islands, Iceland, Mauritius, Namibia, Portugal, Spain and Trinidad and Tobago.

In 2024, the Commission is scheduled to hold the following three sessions:  sixtieth session from 22 January to 8 March 2024, with the plenary parts of the session to be held from 29 January to 2 February 2024 and from 26 February to 1 March 2024; the sixty-first session from 8 July to 23 August 2024, with the plenary parts of the session to be held from 5 to 9 August 2024 and 19 to 23 August 2024; and the sixty‑second session from 7 October to 22 November 2024, without plenary parts.


Established pursuant to article 2 of annex II to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Commission makes recommendations to coastal States on matters related to the establishment of the outer limits of their continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured, based on information submitted to it by coastal States.  These recommendations are based on the scientific and technical data and other material provided by States in relation to the implementation of article 76 of the Convention.  The recommendations do not prejudice matters relating to the delimitation of boundaries between States with opposite or adjacent coasts or prejudice the position of States that are parties to a land or maritime dispute, or application of other parts of the Convention or any other treaties.  The limits of the continental shelf established by a coastal State on the basis of these recommendations shall be final and binding.  In the case of disagreement by the coastal State with the recommendations of the Commission, the coastal State shall, within a reasonable time, make a revised or new submission to the Commission.

Under rule 23 of its rules of procedure (Public and private meetings), the meetings of the Commission, its subcommissions and subsidiary bodies are held in private, unless the Commission decides otherwise.

As required under the rules of procedure of the Commission, the executive summaries of all the submissions, including all charts and coordinates, have been made public by the Secretary‑General through continental shelf notifications circulated to Member States of the United Nations, as well as States Parties to the Convention.  The executive summaries are available on the Division’s website at  The summaries of recommendations adopted by the Commission are also available on the above-referenced website.

The Commission is a body of 21 experts in the field of geology, geophysics or hydrography.  They serve in their personal capacities.  Members of the Commission are elected for a term of five years by the Meeting of States Parties to the Convention from among their nationals having due regard to the need to ensure equitable geographical representation.  Not fewer than three members shall be elected from each geographical region.

Currently, one seat on the Commission allocated to members from Eastern European States is vacant.

The Convention provides that the State party which submitted the nomination of a member of the Commission shall defray the expenses of that member while in performance of Commission duties.  A voluntary trust fund for the purpose of defraying the cost of participation of the members of the Commission from developing countries has been established.  It has facilitated the participation of several members of the Commission from developing countries in the sessions of the Commission.

The convening by the Secretary-General of the United Nations of the sessions of the Commission, with full conference services, including documentation, for the plenary parts of these sessions, is subject to approval by the General Assembly of the United Nations.  The Assembly does so in its annual resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea, which also address other matters relevant to the work of the Commission and the conditions of service of its members.

For additional information on the work of the Commission see the website of the Division at  In particular, the most recent Statements by the Chair on the progress in the work of the Commission are available at

For information media. Not an official record.