Commission on Limits of Continental Shelf Concludes Its Sixtieth Session

NEW YORK, 11 March (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea) — The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf held its sixtieth session at United Nations Headquarters from 22 January to 8 March 2024.  The plenary parts of the session were held from 29 January to 2 February and from 26 February to 1 March.  The remainder of the session was devoted to the technical examination of submissions at the premises of the Division, including geographic information systems laboratories and other technical facilities.

During the session, a minute of silence was held in remembrance of Ivan F. Glumov (Russian Federation), a member of the Commission from 2012 to 2023, and Vice-Chairperson from 2012 to 2019, following his passing on 20 December 2023.

The Commission elected the new member of the Commission, Michał Tomczak (Poland), as Vice-Chairperson and appointed him to subcommissions and other subsidiary bodies.

The following submissions were considered by the Commission and its subcommissions:  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; Namibia; Cuba in respect of the eastern polygon in the Gulf of Mexico; 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).

During its plenary meetings, the Commission heard presentations on the submission made by Portugal, which was a repeat presentation made upon the request of the State, and on the submission of the Federated States of Micronesia in respect of the Area North of Yap.

Underscoring the importance that submitting States attach to the work of the Commission, delegations were represented at the high level:  the delegation of Palau was headed by the Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Gustav N. Aitaro; the delegation of Portugal was headed by the Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, José Maria Costa; the delegation of Cuba included the First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Gerardo Peñalver Portal; and the delegation of the Federated States of Micronesia included the Acting Secretary of the Department of Justice, Leonito Bacalando Jr.

With regard to the submission made by Trinidad and Tobago, the Commission decided to suspend its consideration in view of an objection conveyed by a State.

Taking into account the status of work in one of its established subcommissions, and the suspension of the consideration of a submission, the Commission decided to establish two new subcommissions to consider the submissions made by Cuba in respect of the eastern polygon in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mozambique, respectively, and consequently also adjusted the membership of existing subcommissions.

Further, over the course of the session, the Commission considered a number of measures to improve its efficiency, including a review of the modalities of its work, revision of its rules of procedure, updates to training courses and the development of technical bulletins.

The Commission reviewed the modalities of its work regarding the pattern of its meetings, including with a view to improving its current working methods.  In this regard, starting in 2025, the Commission planned to adopt a new pattern of meetings that would consist of three sessions of five weeks each, for a total of 15 weeks per year.  These meetings would be complemented by increased intersessional work.

In addition, to increase the efficiency of its work and codify its practice, the Commission agreed in principle on a number of proposed amendments to the main body and annex III of its rules of procedure.  The amendments aimed at reflecting current and anticipated working needs of the Commission, and to align the rules with the practice resulting from decisions taken by the Commission after the adoption of document CLCS/40/Rev.1.  The Commission requested the Drafting Committee, in consultation with the secretariat, to submit a consolidated draft of the revised rules of procedure for consideration at the sixty-first session.

Moreover, to facilitate the provision of assistance to States with respect to enhancing the scientific and technical expertise required for the preparation, making and maintenance of submissions, as well as their consideration, the Commission prepared a proposal relating to the development of training courses for consideration by the Meeting of States Parties.

Similarly, in view of the significant scientific and technical advances that had been achieved since the publication of the Scientific and Technical Guidelines of the Commission, as well as the development of a practice for the examination of submissions, the Commission further decided that it would develop bulletins on matters of scientific and technical relevance, which could assist States with regard to their submissions.

With a view to the retrieval or safe disposal of hard copies of submissions that were no longer needed by the Commission, the secretariat reported that a number of pertinent requests had been received from States, and the Commission requested that the secretariat follow up, as needed, in relation to this matter.

Further details of the sixtieth session will be available in the Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission (document CLCS/60/2).

The background press release on this session is available at


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, two seats on the Commission are vacant as a result of the passing of Mr. Glumov and the long-standing vacancy resulting from a lack of nominations from the Group of Eastern European States.

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.