University to play key role in UN committee

The University of Aberdeen is set to play a key role at a United Nations committee working towards a common set of rules on the use of marine biological resources, such as those used in the development of life-saving antibiotics.

Around 100 delegates are expected to attend two workshops sponsored by the University of Aberdeen that will take place at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday (March 31).

The workshops are part of a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) that will make recommendations to the UN General Assembly on a new law to be incorporated into the UN Law of the Sea.

Professor Marcel Jaspars from the University of Aberdeen will play a key role in the workshops, which aim to find a solution to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in international waters.

Professor Jaspars is project leader of PharmaSea, a University of Aberdeen-led project that has explored the deep sea to uncover new bacteria that can be used as life-saving antibiotics.

He said: “Our involvement in the PrepCom process marks the end of the PharmaSea project, and will be one of the major legacies we deliver along with the discovery of drug molecules that are going into preclinical evaluation.

“Through PharmaSea we have been engaged with policy makers at the EU and UN level to provide impartial advice that aims to find a pragmatic solution to the competing views that exist over the best way to manage marine resources in international waters.

“We will be circulating a paper at the workshops that suggests a pragmatic approach that aims to balance the different views of nations, while ensuring that every nation benefits from the discovery of new biological resources.

“We have already tested our ideas with EU and UN policy makers and they were well received, so we are hopeful that our involvement in the PrepCom will provide elements of a proposal that can be presented to the UN General Assembly.”