Key statements from States – 26/7/22

Date: 26 July 2022

Ghana (on behalf of the African Group)

  • Called for developing States have a fair chance to participate in the activities in the area, stating concerns that “that elements and mechanisms designed to give meaning to the principle of the common heritage of humankind risk being eroded”
  • The African Group also stated concerns that the number of reserved areas available to the Enterprise would decline.

Brazil

  • Raised concerns raised about contractors that were unable to comply with obligations and that these issues must be followed closely by ISA to allow for more transparency. They stated that it wasn’t too much to expect that names of contractors, by the same way that States are part of a list when in arrears – giving the Council opportunity to know which contractors not up to challenges.

Chile

  • Noted with concern that there is not full fulfilment of contract-based obligations by some contractors on individual based obligations and that some are obtaining an advantage over others. This situation should be remedied ASAP.
  • The delegation called to be informed of the names of these contractors.
  • Chile said that some contractors have not certified financial statements or inadequate statements. If there are difficulties in fulfilling these activities, the delegation asked if we are ready to engage in much more complicated financial and technical work with regards to exploitation.
  • On NORI, a subsidiary of The Metals Company, Chile stated that “this company has expressed interest starting exploitation activity. However, it’s not in a position to fulfil requirements in the area of environmental impacts as established by this body for the exploration phase. So we must wonder, if NORI cannot fulfil obligations in this exploration phase, can we be sure that they will during the exploitation phase?”

Italy

  • Stated that the Council is not informed on the identity of contractors that are not fully compliant with their obligations and “Italy believes that Council should be duly informed about entities not performing at the same satisfactory level as others. This is relevant when there is delay in collecting sufficient environmental baseline data and temporal variability of relevant environmental practices, which is crucial for definition of threshold, which feeds into environmental regulations. This should be carefully taken into account during the exploration phase, when exploration activity should be thoroughly assessed.
  • They also warned that some contractors are relying on the work undertaken by other contracted areas. This is not acceptable. One of the missions of exploration licences under the Common Heritage of Humankind is to generate knowledge for the whole international community.
  • “Regarding the application for approval of a plan award for exploration by Circular Metals Tuvalu Ltd, Italy observes with concern the unfolding of the events after Tuvalu withdrew its sponsorship. The request by CMT to postpone the analysis of its plan of work until CMT changes its nationality. Sponsorship is a wake up call for all of us to reflect and possibly agree on a definition of effective control, including in the exploitation context.

Germany

  • Stated that “e note with concerned that the environmental management and monitoring plan submitted by the contractor NORI is still insufficient, despite plans to carry out a mining test during the next weeks or months.”
  • “In general we find the entire process of NORIs EIS submission in three pieces in order to meet the one year deadline to be deficient. The first early and premature draft submitted in July 2021 only contain a rudimentary site specific environmental baseline data. The following report submitted on March 2022, was the missing environmental data then lacked the EMP, which was not submitted until two months later. In order to bring the process to a positive conclusion. We expect NORI to provide sufficient and thorough answers to the Commission’s questions on the EMMP before the test mining could be included in the plan of work.“

Costa Rica

  • Called for more time to review important documents and be notified of their publication.
  • Costa Rica stated that they had the same concern as Italy – noting that potential to change nationality and sponsorship was a surprise – is there effective control if that is easy to change?
  • The delegation also questioned the timing of the two year rule, commenting that “In many parts of report, there are mention of obligations not fulfilled due to limitations caused by COVID – but what Costa Rica do not understand is why the pandemic wasn’t taken into account in activating a 2-year deadline, since the request arrived during the worst of pandemic. They called for this to be taken into account now as we consider whether deadline needs to be fulfilled and whether the rule has truly been activated. 
  • The delegation stated that they would like more information especially on the question on who the contractors are that are not complying

Norway

  • Agreed with Costa Rica on effective control and the transfer of rights.

Jamaica

  • The delegation highlighted that some contractors seem to be relying on work in other contract areas which is not consistent with individual obligations in contract Areas and should be kept under careful review.
  • They also stated that it remains unacceptable that some contractors do not feel it necessary to respond to the Legal and Technical Commission and cannot understand why it would have difficulty, such as more details on programme of activities to understand how developing its baselines. They stated that this lack of response in any area requires further action and should be brought to attention of sponsoring states and kept under review by Council.

Argentina

  • Agreed with Italy, Costa Rica and others regarding Tuvalu’s rescission, underscoring the concept of effective control.

Spain

  • Concerned that some contractors did not undertake environmental studies in last year, in spite of the fact that ecosystem studies are improving – this continues to be a point to be monitored. Contractors should rigorously fulfil obligations on enviro matters. Spain added that supervisory and control functions are upmost importance in environmental matters and the highest level of fulfilment is needed in their regard.

Federated States of Micronesia

  • FSM stated that the LTC referenced existing language on sites or objects of archeological or historical nature in exploration regulations, which the Commission might have thought were sufficient. The delegation stated such references were not sufficient when considering REMPs in general, especially considering experiences in the Northwest Pacific, where such cultural heritage and traditional knowledge are alive and vibrant and not archeological, historical, or otherwise outdated – there are proposals in draft exploitation regs to reflect these issues more broadly.

Belgium

  • Called more transparency for names of contractors in default, calling for the Authority to act more vigorously in giving teeth to its rules.
  • The delegation added that when there is a serious breach the Council is notified – who decides what is a serious breach? Is that somewhere in the rules for the LTC?

New Zealand

  • Echoed concern expressed about some contractors not complying fully and wanted to take this opportunity to reiterate need for full and effective compliance.

Nauru

  • Stated that they did not appreciate NGO attempts to dictate to a member State stating that it is untenable based on the participation of NGOs and that no member State has made such a statement. They added that civil society does not share the State responsibilities and there has to be some respect of State’s treaty obligations. The delegation claimed that this behaviour would not be tolerated in the GA and should not be encouraged at the International Seabed Authority.
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