The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO established its Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) in 1989 with main task to develop, coordinate and implement regionally specific marine scientific research, ocean observations and services based on priority interests of the Member States and to implement the IOC global programmes and activities in the region.
Since 1994, WESTPAC has its Secretariat in Bangkok, Thailand, jointly sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), through its IOC, and the Government of Thailand. The Regional Secretariat makes up an “arm” of the mother organization IOC, carrying out their global programmes in the region; on the other hand it executes the activities agreed upon by all member states of WESTPAC.
The Sub-Commission currently has 20 Member States with regular sessions held once every two years. The Officers of the Sub-Commission are elected in their personal capacity at each session. They are nominated by the member states and can serve two terms. For the current period from 2008, the Officers are Dr. Zhanhai Zhang (China) as Chairperson, Prof. Yasuwo Fukuyo (Japan) as the First Vice-Chairperson and Prof. Nor Aieni Binti Haji Mokhtar (Malaysia) as the Second Vice-Chairperson. Since September 2006, the Regional Secretariat has been headed by Mr. Wenxi Zhu.