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United Nations - Office of Legal Affairs
Activities of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations

United Nations World Oceans Day at the United Nations Headquarters and a number of events throughout New York City marking World Oceans Week

3-9 June 2019

New York, New York

On Monday, 3 June 2019, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the United Nations Legal Counsel, Mr. Miguel de Serpa Soares, delivered a keynote address to mark the start of World Oceans Week. This opening event, hosted by the Explorers Club, marked the start of a week of activities which engaged States, civil society and the private sector on ocean issues, raising awareness on the importance of humankind’s relation with the ocean. During his remarks Mr. Serpa Soares introduced this year’s theme, “Gender and the Ocean”, and emphasized the importance of providing everybody with equal opportunities to contribute to, and to benefit from, the ocean.

He also highlighted the important role that civil society organizations play in raising awareness and in encouraging a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, in particular towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda.
World Oceans Week included a half-day panel discussion on current ocean affairs issues in developing States around the world from the perspective of the current United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellows.

MSS with TEC President

The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, delivered introductory remarks to the start of World Oceans Week

On Friday, 7 June 2019, Mr. Serpa Soares delivered opening remarks and a message on behalf of the Secretary-General for the United Nations World Oceans Day celebratory event “Gender and the Ocean” which was held at the United Nations Headquarters.
MSS with WOD participants

The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, together with participants of the United Nations World Oceans Day celebratory event at UNHQ

The Secretary-General’s World Oceans Day message highlighted the disproportionate impact that the effects of pollution and climate change on the oceans have on women and underlined the need to confront gender inequality in order to achieve the ocean-related Goals and targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In his opening remarks, Mr. Serpa Soares also emphasized the importance of this year’s theme for World Oceans Day and drew attention to the need to foster greater understanding and awareness of the various dimensions of gender and the ocean.
In the event, the Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Åsa Regnér delivered an intervention on behalf of UN Women, and Ms. Judith Swan, the initiator of World Oceans Day, delivered the opening keynote remarks.

Asa Regner

Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Åsa Regnér delivered an intervention on behalf of UN Women

During the morning panel, powerful first-hand accounts from community leaders and change-makers drew attention to the importance of considering gender across all ocean-related sectors. The morning session finished with the announcement of the winners of the 2019 World Oceans Day Photo Competition by the 2019 Competition Curator, Ms. Ellen Cuylaerts.
David Salvatori (Italy) 
2019 World Oceans Day Photo Competition Theme Winner (Gender and the Ocean)

Winning photo by David Salvatori (Italy), 2019 World Oceans Day Photo Competition Theme Winner (Gender and the Ocean)

The afternoon session opened with a statement from the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations delivered by her Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Kwabena Osei-Danquah. Later, a solution-orientated panel discussion was held with experts from around the globe, providing an opportunity to reflect on challenges and opportunities to make progress towards gender equality. The closing keynote remarks for the event were delivered by Dr. Sylvia Earle.
Closing remarks

In the evening of 7 June 2019, a reception marking World Oceans Day 2019 was organized by the United Nations Office for Partnerships and the Peace Boat, which was docked in Manhattan. Following welcoming remarks by Mr. Yoshioka Tatsuya, Founder and Director of Peace Boat, the Legal Counsel delivered opening remarks in which he highlighted the importance for governments, international organizations, private companies, communities and individuals to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a crucial contribution to meeting current and future ocean challenges. The evening continued with musical and dance performances as some 600 guests celebrated World Oceans Day.
ECCC event

The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, delivering remarks onboard the Peace Boat

To close the activities of the week, the Legal Counsel and other UN staff members participated in the World Oceans Week beach cleanup and educational event held by 4Ocean in Rockaway Beach Park. The event was attended by over 1,600 participants, particularly young people.
MSS on Rockaway beach with crowd

In his remarks to the participants, Mr. Serpa Soares highlighted that while World Oceans Day is only one day of the year, we all need to take care of the oceans through every-day action. Mr. Serpa Soares closed the event with a recognition to the commitment and leadership of the youth in protecting the oceans, adding a call to continuing to lead the way as part of the solutions that the challenges of our oceans require.
Rockaway beach cleanup

The UN Legal Counsel, Mr. Serpa Soares, participating in Rockaway Beach cleanup event