Country Positions

4 Aug 2022

Belgium

  • Noted no consensus on the proposal to allow contractors observer status.
  • Stated that the delegation are all for inclusivity, “but for efficiency, it is good for member states AND observers who work with joint statements or to work together in any other way so that was the gist of my comment”
  • On the two year rule: “During part 1 and part 2 of the Council this year. Some progress has been made on the exploitation regulations but the task ahead is enormous. We should continue the work in a structured and efficient manner. The adoption of royalty mechanism threshold and standards, regional environmental plans and financing are only 2 of them.”
  • “The regulations should be based on the precautionary approach which does not allow for artificial deadlines. The likely outcome is that at the end of the 2 year period this will not be done. Legal uncertainty is something we do not need. The stakes for mankind are too high. We look forward to the November discussion on the what if scenario. As seen in the roadmap we agreed upon in December 2021.”
  • On the next assembly meeting – “It will be a bit strange that we will be holding 2 weeks of council meetings after the deadline has passed. Lots of interventions where a lot of possible legal questions have been raised. Council should meet prior to the deadline. Another two weeks might be necessary to advance even more.”

Chile 

Made the following statement on the two year rule:

  • As we have already mentioned several times including during the council meeting last week actually expresses its concern as to the activation of paragraph 15 of Section One of the agreement”
  • The request, presented by Nauru into 2020 at one of the worst times internationally of the Pandemic has pushed us to a situation that is unprecedented and there are different interpretations as to how to interpret subparagraph C of this paragraph”
  •  We consider that it’s necessary that the assembly as a supreme organ where all the states parties take part on an equal footing can consider and deliberate this topic.
  • There is no better forum than this one, to be able to express ourselves and listen to one another.
  •  And therefore it seems surprising that more than half of the member states are not present today in this room. 
  • To our mind, there are a couple of questions we need to ask ourselves. 
  • Are we really willing to allow the beginning of underwater mining without having to protect the common heritage of mankind? And under that hypotheses, could we look our children into the eye and show them that we have done everything that was possible to defend this heritage? 
  • A week ago, 161 votes four and eight against the UN approved a resolution that states that all beings have the right to a healthy environment. 
  • The contractors that wish to begin activities underwater can they assure us that with their activities we will have a healthy environment and that the submarine ecosystem must suffer severe damage? No they can’t. It’s us. 
  • We who are gathered in this room are called upon to protect the common heritage of mankind, as established by the convention.
  •  And many experts have indicated in all languages, that the scientific knowledge is still insufficient, and that we have a very limited understanding of the effects of the potential exploitation activities on the seabed, and particularly as to the role of the seabed as a carbon sink, and therefore, some of these actions could have devastating consequences on the marine ecosystems and could release untold greenhouse gases into the atmosphere pushing us further away from the objectives of the Paris Agreement. 
  • Are we willing to be accomplices to the unknown and irreparable damages that deep sea mining might cause?
  •  My delegation can only respond on behalf of Chile The answer is no. 
  • As a signatory country, Chile wishes to continue the negotiating process to reach solid rules on exploitation that are solid holistic and protect the seabed but we do not agree that these tasks be carried out by implementing an insufficient deadline or timeline. 
  • This is why Chile is respectfully calling upon this assembly to consider carefully the situation and cooperation with the organs of the authority,  take decisions based on science based on the cautionary approach and with an eye towards sustainability.
  •  As we have already indicated Chile considers it necessary that the authority continue to work towards developing the regulations but without any pressure. 
  • This is why and based on the mandate and powers conferred upon us by articles 151 53 157 161 62 of UNCLOS we suggest the idea that we establish a cautionary pause of 15 years, a period during which we cannot approve plans for exploitation. And this will allow us to continue to work in a serious and responsible way towards developing the exploitation rules that we all wish for. 
  • We need to discuss this idea amongst others which is why Chile will try to create spaces for a dialogue at the highest level during the next meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations in September in order to continue searching for alternatives which ensure a real commitment towards conservation and the health of oceans in the long run. And we also hope to continue the dialogue in November with the members of the council. 
  • We make an appeal to all the member states to commit themselves towards the authority and to work hand in hand to bring our positions closer and find the best solution to move forward and leave the standstill and devote our energies towards crafting the best regulations that we can whether this takes 15,20 or any number of years necessary.
  • Chile also proposed to bring forward the meeting of the Assembly to the first quarter and if necessary to meet in July, stating that delegates would only need to pay for 2.5 days.

Italy 

  • Stated that “we are strongly committed to a sustainable science based use of marine natural resources, for the preservation of the ecosystems integrity and to the creation of an institutional regulatory framework for the exploitation of the mineral resources of the area using scientific knowledge, the precautionary principle and the ecosystem based approach.”
  • “Italy shapes its own mining culture based on sustainability throughout the lifespan of the mind from research to environmental restoration. We believe this should also apply to seabed mining activities. In this context deep sea mining should not commence as we stated also previously, until we prove prior to the authorization exploitation contracts, strong regulatory framework, ensure that the environmental effects associated with activities in the area do not create detriment to deep sea ecosystems.”

New Zealand 

  • New Zealand considered the discussion on 2 year rule important and thanked Chile for proposing it.
  • “We are focused on developing regulations that ensure environmental protection and need to discuss what happens next. New Zealand consider paragraph 15 of the 1994 agreement does not require the council to approve the regulation or a plan of work. It requires the council to adopt those regulations eventually. And if they are not up to the mark environmentally the council should not adopt them. We are committed to protecting our ocean.”

Costa Rica

Costa Rica made the following statement on the 2 year rule:

  • Costa Rica is concerned about the way in which due to the triggering by one delegation of the so called two year rule, there’s an effort to constrain and oblige states to, in a haphazard way come up with a legal framework, which is of the utmost importance when speaking about the exploitation regulations.
  •  Many of the provisions are still at the fledgling stage, we need to be very clear that annex one paragraph 15 is a legal recourse established in the implementation agreement. However, this is one of the many matters in which our legal framework is not clear and is liable to be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, the rule indicates in a) that the council may undertake such an elaboration of rules, regulations and procedures needed for the development of activities in the area in two scenarios. 
  1. Anytime the council deems that all or any of such rules, regulations and procedures are required for the conduct of activities in the area
  2.  Or a request of a state, whose national intends to apply for an approval of a plan of work?
  • Those are the two alternate options. So in this situation, the council had already used alternate option one we had already undertaken the drafting of the regulation for exploitation since July 2019. This gives rise to our first debt. If the article speaks about alternative options, then is it legally viable to resort to the second option when the council has already started the elaboration of regulations in 2019, using the first alternative.
  •  Now to turn to our second doubt, and that is the validity of resorting to the two year rule in the midst of a pandemic, when it was practically impossible to advance in our deliberations much less conclude deliberations. 
  • My deviation would question that validity firstly, because in triggering the two year rule, we did so using none of the rationale for which this was included in the text. 
  • If we read the relevant text, it’s noted that this article is included for it to cover two situations. 
  • Firstly, a state is ready to start exploitation and negotiations of the regulations have not yet begun. That was not the case. 
  • Second scenario is a state is ready to exploit and in the context of the negotiations a stalemate has been reached. Neither does that apply. 
  • We are wondering about the legal validity also because although UNCLOS doesn’t speak to what happens in cases of force majeure, there is a principle that all lawyers learn at the outset of learning of studying the law. 
  • That is ‘nobody is obliged to do the impossible.’ As such, can timeline be triggered when there is force majeure that impedes its fulfilment? My delegation believes not.
  • There are many other matters on which we have very little legal certainty. For example, paragraph C of the article states that if the two year rule elapses and the council has not finished developing the rules and there is a pending plan of action for exploitation, the council may approve that plan of work on a provisional basis.
  • Therefore, what happens if the two years elapsed and that plan of work has not been submitted? In this case, there would not be a pending request. Does that mean that the timeframe elapses and must be reactivated or triggered again, if there is a pending request. What does it mean to provisionally adopt or approve it? In the provisional law of treaties, it speaks of temporality… therefore, could, the council decide to approve it in a short timeframe, while work on the regulations goes on. What type of rights does provisional granting or approval give it? What steps must be taken by contractors to fulfil their obligations vis a vis  the definitive regulations once they have been adopted from approved if the approved initial approval was provisional?
  • There are many more doubts than areas of clarity and this is really open to misinterpretation. Perhaps it might be worth addressing these questions to the body that implements our legal framework. Namely ITLOS In addition, as previously stated, Costa Rica believes that legally speaking, there is no obligation to conclude the negotiations in two years. Firstly, because this very article says that the timeframe can lapse without regulations having been elaborated.
  • Also, because there are principles at play here that we as humanity must apply the precautionary approach. 
  • There are principles at play here namely that when there is nature should be given the benefit of that doubt. And here we are referring to article 145 of the Convention, which imposes on us an obligation to effectively protect the marine environment from the harm that may derive from activities in the area. 
  • Exploration has occurred in less than 1% of the deep seabed
  • We know hardly anything about the marvellous species that live there. And if we don’t know anything about them, how can we protect them? Without the necessary information for establishing baselines without having the knowledge on the effects that mining will have on species but also on the carbon that is captured at the seabed that could be released into the environment, it is impossible to develop rules, regulations and procedures which will allow the LTC to assess plans of work in fulfilment of their obligations under the convention. 
  • Therefore, Costa Rica believes that there is a need to implement a precautionary pause we should use the last eight years that remain of the UN Decade of ocean science to promote and finance marine scientific research that will allow us to gain knowledge with regard to what is at the deep seabed before we take actions that will cause irreversible harm. 
  • This is an immense responsibility and is on all of our shoulders. As a result ,we cannot achieve all of this in one year, two year or five years. We need time to do it properly. And as the proverb says, better to do things properly done with haste. 

On bringing forward the Assembly meeting:

  • “In line with what was said by Chile. When we were speaking about the 2-year rule which has to be complied with by next summer. It’s an important issue to be discussed, if it cannot be discussed now. If the next assembly session is in July, it will be quite late. Therefore, it’s vital for us that we have an opportunity to discuss this as an Assembly not just as a council before July. whether in the form of an extraordinary season in April or a regular session in July or move the session in april and then convene an extraordinary session in July. Either is fine with us.”
  • “Costa Rica is gravely concerned that we are simply told that it is complicated to respond to a request by a state party. We are the authority. We should not simply be told that things are not complicated. In December 2021 – a meeting was arranged in 2 months with venue and interpreter.” 
  • “We are a little surprised that we are simply told that things are complicated. It was more complicated in July. We have not had the chance to discuss a very important issue. Very complicated to prepare a report in 8 months. There should be reports that we can present in July and have a special assembly to present. And not just have the argument that it is complicated because we know it is very important.”
  • On cutting off observers: “Cutting off abruptly the observers is not ideal. It’s not like we have reached 6 pm on Friday and we have to finish. I would like to apologise to the observers because I want to hear what they have to say.”

Cuba

  • Thanked the delegation of Chile for the proposal with regard to continuing to hold discussions on 2 year rule. They also stated “We need to continue the negotiations of the exploitation regulations.”

Australia

  • “Australia respects that in activating the 2-year trigger, Nauru was exercising their rights under international law. There is a considerable amount of work to do on the regulations.  Australia is committed to finalize the regulations and associated instruments by July next year. We want to meet the deadlines on 1994 agreement.”

Russia

  • “We need to think well, not procrastinate, so not be excessively slow. I would like to thank Costa Rica for a solid legal remark which was very well founded. We also agree with the message that in the case of a dispute we would need to refer the issue to the ITLOS.”

Spain

Made the following statement on the two year rule:

  • We have said that the matter of the 2 year rule is concerning for us. That is because it is a Damocles sword that is hanging over us. The time has come for us to decide something. There are legal arguments pro and anti this proposal.It would be very sad if the LTC was obliged to recommend the approval of a plan of work when provisions are not finalized. However there are other provisions for example Art 15 which allow interested states to express their interest in progressing to an exploitation phase.
  • In my view, there are too many legal uncertainties. Therefore, I support what was said by the delegations who took the floor before me. Perhaps it would not be inappropriate to resort to the ITLOS and ask for an advisory opinion, an advisory opinion that would not be made immediately it would be issued when plans have been discussed because general countries aren’t ready to present exploit exploitation plans and so it could be referred to ITLOS when necessary. So we would reiterate the need to find a consensus based solution
  • Here we are dealing with a common good. I’m a diplomat and there are many diplomats here and it’s important that the spirit that we engage in these discussions is to try and find a compromise solution and compromise between the authority, the interested state, other states represented. 
  • So perhaps as those who have spoken before me, we can agree on a pause because article 15 clearly says that the council, and speaking of paragraph C, must ‘consider’ 
  • But ‘consider’ does not mean that the council is obliged to approve. On the other hand, if provisional approval is granted, well, provisional is the key word provisional until there are adequate regulations governing a mining code. So, approval would be definitive from that point on, but provisional would not necessarily mean approval to exploit.

Nauru

  • “We are clear. We propose to  reconsider the new agenda item given the limited time Chile submitted this for the consideration of the Assembly.”

Ecuador

The delegation made the following statement:

  • “Ocean covers roughly 70% of the surface of our planet. And they host more than 80% of the forms of life that exists. 
  • The oceans without a deal to generate are roughly 50% of the oxygen necessary to our life and our fundamental to capture co2 and the heat that this generates. 
  • Moreover, we consider that the oceans are a source of food security, but they protect us against the effects of climate change and are the lung that maintains our Earth and makes it healthy and makes it possible to exercise our rights to life, health, water, nutrition, and of course, the right to a balanced, healthy environment. 
  •  I believe that right now we are not ready. We need to be aware of this and precisely uphold these principles stemming from UNCLOS. If we act with haste, we could put ourselves in irreversible situations affecting the marine environment and its ecosystems
  • We agree with article 145 of UNCLOS which we’ll see clearly establishes specified parameters for the particular for the protection of the marine environment of the area
  • This should be respected and global efforts should aim at protecting oceans appropriately by 2030 using mechanisms of regional alliances which strengthens the migratory routes, the cycles of reproduction and  the resources of the seabed
  • We therefore are grateful for the proposal of Chile, we support this initiative to postpone the timeline that has been supported by others and continue the debate.”

South Africa

  • On the two year rule and referring the matter to ITLOS: “The stakes are very high compared to the stakes in 2011. So the question now is, why are we hesitant if we are in referring this matter to ITLOS for an advisory opinion, when the stakes are high, whereas when the stakes were not as high as this high in 2011, we managed to do that and we did receive a good advisory opinion.”

Singapore

  • Stated that: “We recognize that without robust scientific knowledge, deep-sea mining poses risks of irreversible damage. In the absence of safeguards, DSM should not proceed. We note the invoking of the 2 year rule. A year before this deadline remains. If and when deep-sea mining happens there must be a robust safeguard. We are committed to developing an environmentally robust legal framework and ensure DSM is consistent with IL including rules procedures and regulations of the ISA.”

Kiribati 

  • “Regarding the proposal made by Chile…our capital needs better consultation on this proposal. We request we are not in a position to support this proposal. Could we discuss the inclusion of this item in the next meeting.”

Pakistan

  • “Having heard these arguments on the Chilean proposal – we need universally accepted regulations that ensure the protection of the marine environment and this requires time. We also know that some seek financial advantages with DSM. However we need time to achieve meaningful regulations.”

Argentina

  • “The position of our country is of commitment. After 2 years of suspension of negotiation for the exploitation of resources in the area we consider we should not postpone for an indefinite time. 
  • We should respect however the time needed for a good framework. It is also important to work for a regime that gives us legal certainty and guarantees.
  • Considering the level of importance and specifically there are technical environmental and financial challenges that should be considered taking into account DSM needs to take into account best practices and Ca respect for CHM. We should also figure out royalty systems. 
  • We understand there is legal uncertainty regarding the 2 year clause and its consequences. We need more time for studying possible scenarios in case we do not succeed in adopting regulations in 2 years.”

UK

  • Suggested deciding whether to bring forward the next Assembly meeting in the November Council session.
3 Aug 2022

Trinidad and Tobago

  • The delegation stated that “Speed should not take precedence over quality. Regulations should not be adopted in an attempt to meet a deadline.”

Holy See

  • The Holy See stated that “The words of Pope Francis are pertinent here as well. And I quote, since everything is closely interrelated and today’s problems call for a vision capable of taking into account every aspect of the global crisis, I suggest that we consider some elements of an integral ecology, one which clearly respects its human and social dimensions.”

Chile

  • Chile stated that “for reasons of transparency that auditing should not be monopolised by one firm. Chile requests that the Assembly should make a decision, as recommended by Finance Committee, a UN board of auditors be used. More will have to be paid to do so.  Chile would like to see reduction in expenses to allow more funding to hire UN board of auditors and respond to transparency requirements called for by taxpayers.”
  • The Secretary General stated that “the audit for this year 2022 will be carried out by Ernst & Young, who have already been appointed as the auditor and the contract in place.”
  • Chile stated on their proposal for a discussion on the two year rule that their proposal “is subject to discussion and some countries have objected, such as Tonga and Nauru. Under the rules of procedure we believe a secret vote would go against what we aspire to. Chile would like to evoke article 12 as established practice for issues which are urgent and important. This is an important and urgent item.”
  • On Belgium’s proposal (detailed below), Chile stated that contractor “motives are very different to most of the other observers whose primary objective is to think about common heritage.”

Monaco

  • Stated that capacity development is an obligation, not a choice. “Capacity building and training are extremely important because they are currently insufficiently implemented.
    The realization of the objective of sustainable exploitation of the area will depend on our level of scientific knowledge. Without solid scientific basis, no action is possible in that realm.”
  • They added that “The Principality of Monaco will play its role to the full because capacity development requires adequate implementation of indeed the legal order we’re defining in order to facilitate exploitation that is safe in the area with regard to resources on the ecosystems.”

Senegal

  • Stated “The richness of the area involves an obligation to preserve and protect this common heritage of mankind. Activities undertaken in the area of scientific research in the area, as well as exploration exploitation call for thorough knowledge, with a view to having sustainable development of the deep sea.”
  • They added that “Today in the fisheries sector it’s worth recognizing the existence of fishing techniques that have negative consequences on the deep seabed. On this point we support the implementation of REMPS.”

Belgium

  • Belgium Introduced “proposed amendments to the Rules of Procedure – this rule stipulates who can participate as an observer in the Assembly and the Council of the Assembly”
  • The delegation proposed that “contractors be given the same rights as observers as NGOs and civil society.”
  • Belgium also stated “We encourage the NGOs also to associate themselves to increase the efficiency of the meetings.”

Australia

  • Stated that “this may risk a conflict of interest in ISA processes.”
  • “We recognise that there is currently no industry group representing DSM, but there is no obstacle to one being formed.”

Russia

  • The Russian federation supported Belgium’s proposal on contractors.

Argentina

  • Stated that they had doubts on the Belgian proposal and that in the Authority there is special representation of the States that have carried out the greatest efforts for development of activities in area and therefore their interests are already represented. They also raised questions on the potential conflicts of interest and stated “We are not in favour of including contractors as observers in the interests of the Authority.”

Tonga

  • Stated that they are not supporting Belgium’s proposal but do do see merit in the proposals and would be interested in the proposals from Australia and the Netherlands.

Canada

  • Stated that “maybe we should consider the possibility that the contractor intervenes individually, therefore with an amendment to the rules of procedure.”

Pakistan

  • Stated that “contractors must not be given the right to speak as individuals, given the stakes they hold in the discussion.

Nauru

  • Noted the above proposal and supported it.

Italy

  • Shared concerns about possible conflicts of interest regarding Belgium’s proposal.

UK

  • Stated with regard to the Belgium proposal – “We acknowledge the point made by observers and note that they all have their own policy positions as well in relation to the interventions which they make as well.”
2 Aug 2022

Costa Rica

  • On the ISA’s award for deep sea research, Costa Rica highlighted that the ISA should recognise young people but to also listen to them, remain in contact with them, to take very seriously their contributions and heed closely with what they are telling us. The delegation highlighted Dr Diva Amon who “continues to contribute in note worthy manor.”
  • Called for the achievement of UN standards in transparency and accountability by the ISA and that it would also be appropriate for the Authority to to adopt and implement the Standards of Conduct for International Civil Service, as done by all United Nations organizations.
  • On financial matters, they highlighted that the Voluntary Fund for Extra-budgetary Support for the Authority was not mentioned in the report, which received almost two million dollars, with a balance now of about 700,000. “We do not know the governance scheme of this fund, nor where the expenses it covers are reported, but it seems to us that for the sake of transparency information should be published on all the funds that the ISA receives.”
  • They also highlighted worrying comments by the Secretary General stating: Costa Rica would like to mention that when the Secretary General participates in events on behalf of the Authority, the audiences presume that his statements represent the opinion of the States Parties to the ISA. That is why we have been very concerned about two situations that have occurred in the last year.
  • The first situation occurred in June 2022, when in the framework of the Meeting of States Parties of UNCLOS, the Secretary-General communicated to the UN General Assembly: “the endorsement by consensus of a roadmap for accelerated work on the draft exploitation regulations with a view to adopt the regulations by July 2023”. This assertion is, to say the least, inaccurate.
  • The other event that worries my delegation is in a video on YouTube about an activity of the University of Singapore, where Secretary Lodge appears in it and criticised the current negotiators, saying that there are, and I quote “extreme ideological positions, including a growing environmental absolutism and dogmatism, bordering on fanaticism”. We do not know who the SG was referring to in this video, but we find  his statements extremely inappropriate, even more so when, one of the obligations of the Authority,  for many the main obligation, is to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment, so all ISA officials should celebrate and support the efforts and demonstrations that serve to fulfil this mandate.
  •  The delegation also highlighted that it was not indicated in the Secretary General’s report that Tuvalu withdrew sponsorship from this company, since Tuvalu notified this to the Secretariat in April, and the date of the report is the end of May.
  • They also added that “almost all the delegations that have taken the floor speak about the importance of complying with the effective protection and preservation of the marine environment in accordance with Article 145 of UNCLOS. But the only way to comply with protection and preservation obligations is by not starting exploitation until there is enough scientific evidence to be able to make informed decisions when evaluating a plan of work.”
  • “Some will say that all mining poses risks to the environment. That is true. But seabed mining in the Area is something very different: it is the only resource we govern as an international community snd it is the only resource in human history that we have the opportunity to regulate before we begin exploiting it. That is why we have the enormous responsibility to do good and get it right, taking all the necessary time before exploiting it.”
  • “That is why Costa Rica believes that because we are responsible for the Common Heritage of Humankind, for our peoples and for future generations, we must act with caution.That caution requires us to implement a precautionary delay with regard to starting exploitation activities.”
  • “Article 15 does not mean that our only option is to approve a plan. The same rules provides for the possibility for a decision not being taken. There are several legal options that we should be able to discuss among all States and Observers. That is the idea behind Chile’s proposal, which reiterates a request from 9 Latin American and Caribbean countries in November 2021 to have a space for discussion.”
  • “We cannot ignore that we are far from completing the Regulations and the Standards and Guidelines, also we have pending the operationalization of the Enterprise and the Economic Planning Commission. Neither are we close to reaching an agreement on the financial mechanism, where we have not agreed on the model, nor the royalties, nor do we have the study on environmental costs that was agreed to be carried out by consensus.”
  •  “As representatives of our countries and of humanity, we have an immense responsibility that fate has placed in our hands. My delegation will continue to work constructively with all delegations to advance our work in the right direction. But that direction should not be decided on the basis of the economic interests of a few. We must be guided by the principle of the Common Heritage of Humankind and the precautionary principle.  Our efforts today to conserve the marine environment will determine the world in which future generations will live.”

Jamaica

  • The delegations stated that Jamaica benefits in real ways from ISA and Secretary General as a host country.

Nigeria

  • The delegation highlighted that Africa is highly underrepresented in this Secretariat in senior leadership positions and called for this imbalance to be addressed.
  • Stated that the ISA is meaningfully contributing to SDGs. This claim was made by numerous State delegations throughout the day including Malta, Philippines, Bangladesh, Morocco, Nauru, Italy, India, Algeria, Senegal Argentina and Kiribati.
  • The DSCC stated that this is wholly not the case, and amounted to spin. Deep-sea mining is entirely inconsistent with SDG 14, which requires that States conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

South Africa

  •  Stated that the biggest challenge for ISA is balancing the conflicting obligations, which are the exploitation activities of mineral resources in a sustainable manner, and effective protection of marine environment from harmful effects, which may arise from such activities.
  • South Africa also stated that the precautionary and polluter pays principle must also be taken into consideration.
  • They also raised concerns as to how fair and equitable benefit sharing will be realized, calling for a payment regime that balances commercial interests with a fair and equitable return to the common heritage of humankind.
  • South Africa stated that without the Enterprise, the area’s mineral resources could be effectively reserved for those private corporations to the effective exclusion of the developing countries.

Japan

  • Japan commented that the “deep sea is extremely fragile, and once destroyed, it takes a long time to recover and the protection of the marine environmental area of utmost importance.” They continued that it is essential to develop robust, high quality rules that contribute to both the “sound exploitation and the protection of the marine environment.”
  • The delegation added that “In so doing, we must seek the consensus of all parties concerned and make every effort to otherwise substantive discussions. This is easy to say that difficult to do.”

China

  • Called to “protect the contractual rights and exploitation motivations of contractors while effectively protecting the marine environment.”

Monaco

  • The delegation stated that the annual report of the Secretary General “comes at a time of great change at a geopolitical social and economic level, where the attention given to the ocean as a reservoir of biological and mineral resources has no comparison to the battle that is waged on the cost of the exploitation, both from the economic, and environmental point of view, and the more or less imminent nature of this exploitation.”
  • They added “What is occurring now, pertaining to the resources of the area is just a race in which each decision matters, this race, whose outcome is, I’m sure, will probably decide on the future of our planet. But this race, we still have ways to win it for the benefit of the area thanks to the scientific community whose work allows us to measure the progress of the degradation by mining, as well as the resilient capacity of oceans.”

Malta

  • Called to to “base our actions including the ISA’s work upon what science tells us is the best is in the best interests of our planet and humanity as a whole” and that “public information and outreach are vital in all our work.”

Singapore

  • Urged the Secretariat to continue to find ways to strengthen the voting and governance.

New Zealand

The New Zealand delegation made the following statement:

  • “Deep-sea mining has the potential to cause irreversible changes to this environment and could have a significant impact on the biodiversity within it. As such it is essential that any mining code adopted above all ensures the effective protection of the marine environment.”
  • “This is required under Article 145 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and must be our collective bottom line in these negotiations. As outlined in the council last week, New Zealand’s view is that mining cannot and should not take place in the absence of strong environmental safeguards. This must include robust and comprehensive regulations that embed the precautionary approach such that mining cannot take place, unless there is effective protection of the marine environment.”
  • “New Zealand jointly with Costa Rica, Chile, the Netherlands, the UK and the Federated States of Micronesia put forward a proposal in March which is designed to encode article 145 of UNCLOS into the draft regulations. The proposal aims to fill a gap in the Commission’s decision making process by introducing a new stage requiring the commission to make a substantive determination on whether an application to mine gives rise to a risk of harm to the marine environment. We consider that such a decision making stage is vital to ensure compliance with article 145 and we were pleased to see this proposal included in the various drafts of the regulations released by the facilitators of the working groups this week.”
  • “Finally, we would like to touch briefly on the two year rule, and what this means looking forward in negotiations. New Zealand agrees with those that have expressed the view that paragraph 15 of Section One of the annex to the 1994 agreement does not require the council to adopt exploitation regulations at the end of the two year period. Nor does it require the council to automatically approve a plan of work at that time. Rather, this provision requires the council to make best endeavours to complete regulations within the prescribed timeframe. If that work remains unfinished at the two year deadline, if the regulations do not ensure the effective protection of the marine environment we consider the council is not required to adopt them. It is New Zealand’s view that in these circumstances, mining beyond national jurisdiction should not proceed.”
  • “We would also like to briefly add our support for the proposal made by Chile during yesterday’s session regarding the addition of an agenda item under which discussion on the two year rule could take place in the Assembly. We consider this discussion to be an important one and one that should be open to all ISA members.”

Spain

The delegation stated that:

  • “Protecting and preserving the marine environment is a priority for many delegations and reflects the environmental awareness that exists on national and international levels that we cannot ignore.”
  • “Secondly, at the UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon, many delegations recall that there was a lack of scientific certainty with regard to the environmental impact of deep sea mining, and that there is a need to protect biodiversity, beyond national jurisdiction. Therefore, we believe that as a precaution, The time has come to take a break. This break will serve to slow down the transition to the phase of exploiting mineral resources in the area without diminishing exploration activities, which should continue. As we have said on many occasions, the goal of exploring should be to gain knowledge and protect in a better way.”
  • “We believe that pursuant to Article 145 of the convention, the two year rule does not oblige us to move to the exploitation phase. If environmental guarantees are not adequate, and not while addressing only economic or market based factors.”
  • “The existence of a protective and appropriate regulatory framework that ensures true protection prior to any authorization of exploitation contracts is for Spain a fundamental course of action that we will always ask to be respected.”
  • The delegation also stated that “The interaction between the BBNJ process and the exploitation regulations is clear.”

Russia

  • The Russian delegation stated that “we have made progress on many points of contention over the past year, but there is a lot that needs to be done. The drafting and approval of a document as fundamental to the activities as the regulations on exploitation require a very careful and responsible approach, avoiding taking hasty, not fully thought through decisions. Careful consideration should be given to all issues particularly those relating to the protection of the marine environment, including the assessment of possible impact and the setting of threshold values.”

Bangladesh

  • Bangladesh stated that “Draft regulations and standards progressing but need to move forward.”

Lesotho

  • The delegation stated that “States have obligation to protect and preserve marine environment including in Area, control pollution, not only in national jurisdiction, and also pollution from land-based sources.”

France

  • France stated that “After the Lisbon conference which launched a warning  call with regard to the health of oceans, France is determined to act and adopt a legal framework with rigorous environmental protections to ensure that harm to ecosystems in the marine environment is minimised.”
  • On the two year rule, they stated that “In this regard, France stresses that it has never interpreted the triggering of the two year rule in June 2021 to mean an adaptation of the mining code by 2023 as being an obligation on the council to automatically and provisionally agree all work plans that will be submitted beyond that date. France’s priority is to take the time necessary to define this multilateral legal framework, which should be robust and should offer protection. It should be enforceable for all states.”
  • They added that “There is a particular responsibility on our shoulders. We know now that the destiny of humanity linked to oceans, to the sustainable development of their resources and absolute requirement of respect for the marine environment. Let’s be up to the task that has been given to us.”

Burkina Faso

  • The delegation stated that “This year we’re commemorating UNCLOS’ 40th anniversary however our planet has never before confronted so many challenges. The global climate crisis that has come to bear in recent years through episodes of, intense and recurrent droughts, soil degradation, devastating floods, ocean acidification and rising sea levels reminds of the need to exercise close control of activities at sea in general; but on the high seas in particular.  Since the health of our planet is inexplicably  linked to health of our oceans, this control is so more necessary than ever.”

Nauru

  • Stated “Let us continue to work collectively constructively to finalize a world class ISA mining code. We have a window of opportunity to support the development of a sector that we consider has the real potential to help accelerate our energy transition to realize financial and other economic benefits for the international community as a whole flowing from the principle of the common heritage of mankind, to contribute to a sustainable development agenda and a sector that is subject to a unique robust oversight mechanism through ISA and sponsoring states.”

Netherlands

  • Reiterated “the importance for the authority to continue broadcasting live on the ISA Web TV, the meetings of the assembly and the council, including the informal working groups of the Council on the various elements of the exploitation regulations.”
  • They also agreed with States and observers that mentioned that paragraph 15 of annex to the 1994 Agreement doesn’t require Council to adopt regulations if Council deems they aren’t yet fit for purpose. In absence of such regulations, we believe exploitation activities shouldn’t commence and that the rules don’t require Council to automatically approve plan of work.

Chile

  • Reminded delegates of an earlier letter, dated October 13 of last year, ISBA/26/47 where together with the delegations of Argentina, Bahamas, Costa Rica, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica, Panama, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago, Chile stated that it was important to finish developing an effective regulatory framework framework before the exploitation activities begin in order to guarantee that UNCLOS and the agreement would be taken into account.
  • They stated that “It is hard for us to believe that those who negotiated that agreement, did it believing that one day it would be interpreted in the manner in which certain contractors want to interpret it. That is to say, please the interests of a few above the interests of all of mankind.”
  • They added that “I hope that in November, the convention centre will be available since the treatment given to the rest of our delegations and the observers who did not fit in this room and who travelled from far afield was not the best.”
  • Chile also stated that “We are very far from having a serious responsible and regulation based on the consensus which is the only regulation that our countries deserve as well as the future generations that we all accountable to, which is why we cannot continue our work under pressure. Exploiting seabeds without adequate regulations will be feast today and famine in the future.”

UK

  • Stated that “We recall original deadline of exploitation regulations was 2020, but that has been extended. Welcome the progress that has been made. We are grateful for those taking the work forward. We Believe it’s essential that the authority makes use of the year ahead and potentially up to six weeks of meetings with the Council to take forward the important work on the elaboration of a commercially viable code, which has the strongest levels of environmental protection within it with the precautionary principle at its heart.”

Italy

  • The delegation said “To proceed to the exploitation of mineral resources in the area, increasingly subject to a sparkling debate in the global public opinion, the Authority is called to a growing effort of transparency and involvement of civil society.”
  • Italy stated “We should aim for the creation of an institutional and regulatory system based on sound scientific knowledge on the precautionary principle and on the ecosystem based approach. Again, we underline that deep sea mining should not commence until an adequate regulatory framework ensures the minimization of impacts of the exploitation prior to the authorization of exploitation contracts.”
  • They also highlighted that there will be “Period of intense work in upcoming sessions, and we believe that conclusion of these negotiations should not hinder quality of regulation, particularly the need for highest levels of protection for the marine environment. We support the principle that the quality of regulations should not be weakened because of imposed deadlines.”

Cuba

  • Cuba stated “This is a moment of transition in our work from exploration to exploitation and we hope to make progress in this process as we develop the exploitation rules, maintaining an approach based on transparency, cooperation, cautionary and proportionate that allows to balance the exploitation of real resources and the protection of the environment and particularly the marine environment. We should not hurry in the negotiation process and take into account the environmental studies that allow us to understand the consequences and the impacts of the exploitation of resources in the area.”

Algeria

  • Called upon the finance committee to ensure they work continuously to implement rules and agreement relating to benefit to humankind as a whole, paying special attention to benefit and needs of all peoples.

Tonga

  • Tonga stated that they “stand ready to support work of Authority and relevant bodies especially for completion of regulatory frameworks in timely fashion while assuring due diligence where appropriate.”

Ecuador

  • Supported the initiative of Chile and “shared the concerns of Argentina concerning the deadline established in terms of the annex of the agreement on the implementation of the level of intervention which presents a problem in the activities in the area to be considered in elements linked to the activation of this deadline.”

Brazil

  • Stated that “It’s clear that more scientific knowledge and more expertise are required to address a significant amount of questions and issues related to the impact of the seabed mining on the marine ecosystem ecosystems.”
  • They called for member States’ concerns about issues that demand solid scientific knowledge or complex legal answers to be properly addressed.
  • They also called for the two year rule role to be addressed by the LTC independently of the views of members.
  • The delegation also called for a scientific committee.

Mexico

  • Mexico stated that “scientific data is fundamental to have enough information to move on to exploit exploitation.”
  • They added that “We wish to have a scientific legal framework which gives certainty to exploitation activities while protecting the marine environment and allowing us to sustainable use these resources.”
1 Aug 2022

Acting Assembly President

  • “Stated that he Common heritage of mankind belongs to all of us. The eyes of civil society are on us also, and thank and encourage them to continue to engage while respecting our rules.”

ISA Secretary General

  • Stated that “…the council meeting worked very well and was quite a seamless experience for delegates despite technical challenges.”

Chile

  • Stated that “We all know that there’s an elephant in the room… and we have not had the opportunity to debate in person and I believe this is the best opportunity to discuss here in the assembly. I believe that more than taking a decision, we need to hear one another and present various ideas in order to find what to do next. We are less than a year away from the deadline mentioned in Part 15 of the implementation agreement, of Part 11 of UNCLOS, and this is why we decided rather than waiting until next year, that we need to consider to  discuss this now and present our ideas on what we hope to do.”

Costa Rica

  • Supported Chile’s proposal, “with enthusiasm” stating that “Since this is a matter that many of us have mentioned in our interventions, we’ve never had a specific space to discuss it. Time is running out, we have a deadline that some consider that some consider meaningful and others not, and we are making efforts to develop regulations, but all of us in the council noted there is a lot more work to do.”
  • Called for strengthening of ocean governance in and beyond national jurisdiction and that they look forward to BBNJ treaty .
  • The delegation stated their commitment to continue to constructively engage in ISA negotiations to develop a solid, fair, environmentally sound regulations that guarantees protection of marine environment as per Article 145.

Nauru

  • Stated that “Chile’s submission for this discussion will derail the 27th session and the roadmap” and that the delegation are cognisant that “there may come a time to discuss this, but Chile’s position will lead to polarization and politicising of Nauru’s legal right to exploration and exploitation, especially as a pacific state, we cannot support this inclusion, there are elements we need to counter, and we have not prepared.”

Spain

  • Supported the inclusion of Chile’s proposed agenda item on the two year rule stating that “It seems to me that it is always good to speak as this strengthens transparency and increases visibility. The goal isn’t to reach position, but to exchange opinions.”

UK

  • The UK delegation stated that the discussion on ‘what if’ scenarios was scheduled by the Council for the 31st of October to November meeting and that has been in the roadmap since December.

Tonga

  • Tonga stated that they “had not had ample time to coordinate this request with capital, so there is a sense of uneasiness, without receiving proper direction, however I recognize the intent of the proposal is to open discussion but we recognize that we are still in the middle of two year rule so there is still time to take action. I feel that in due course we will have to come to that in terms of trying to force the way forward after the two year period.”
  • They also stated that sea levels will continue to rise and that SIDS more vulnerable with current baselines threatened.

Brazil

  •  Stated that Chile’s proposal was important and that they “believe it is important to include it in the agenda because the time has come, maybe not to discuss in depth, but to discuss methods and a way to move forward with this so therefore the Brazil delegation would like to support the proposal to include the topic.” They highlighted the need for greater understanding of human activities on the ocean and full transparency.
  • They also called for promotion of deep sea literacy and “fundamental steps towards strengthening the ISA role in the ocean global governance.”
  • The delegation added that “A robust code of conduct, standard & guidelines must be put in place before any activity is approved. Interrelated with ISA mandate. The ISA needs to ensure coherence between our mission and the evolution of international law, for example BBNJ. “

China

  • Called to improve ISA regime and that the development of regulations is a priority. The delegation added that regulations need to balance exploitation and protection based on scientific facts and evidence, strengthen and improve regime 
  • China also called for the promotion of the sustainable development of the seabed, which cannot be achieved without progress of science, orderly use of resources, sharing of benefits, collaboration and solidarity.

Monaco

  • Stated that “these resources can be exhausted, even if technology can allow for their extraction it could lead to risks.”

Canada

  • Stated that they are seeking the conclusion of a BBNJ treaty in 2022 and are committed to the development of robust regulations of mineral resources that ensures effective protection of marine environment and sound governance.

Russia

  • The Russian delegation stated that “Along with Antarctic, atmosphere and space, the world ocean became a sphere where internationl governance has been imposed. Large reserves of mineral resources – development potential not fully realised. Minerals such as nodules are only found in the oceans. Will lead to meeting demand of whole range of industries and facilitate more friendly sources of energy.”

UK

  • Stated that the health of the ocean has been significantly degraded due to human action including by industries directly regulated by UNCLOS.

Italy

  • The delegation stated that the supply of raw materials, energy, prospects for economic growth largely depends on the sea.
  • Italy stated that they are strongly committed to the sustainable use of maritime resources and creation of regulation system for exploitation of resources of Area, an ecosystem-based approach and the precautionary principle.

Burkina Faso

  • Called to make sure framework at service of protection of common heritage of humankind for future generations.

Togo

  • Togo stated the need to establish legal order to facilitate activities linked to the sea, conservation of marine resources and protection of the environment.

The Dominican Republic

  •  Highlighted the need to consider the common heritage of humankind while guaranteeing equitable distribution of benefits based on needs of countries.

Portugal

  • The delegation stated that future generations’ wellbeing is linked to wellbeing of oceans.

29 Jul 2022

Ghana (on behalf of the African Group)

  • Supported the operationalisation of an Economic Planning Committee (EPC) “as soon as possible.”
  • The delegation stated that “As the recent United Nations Oceans conference has highlighted, there is a need to scale up ocean action based on science for the implementation of SDG 14 and the preservation and protection of the marine environment.”
  • Ghana supported the approval of the ISA’s MOU with the African Union and requested member states to support the MOU.

Italy

  • On operationalising an EPC, the delegation stated that “we cannot at this stage forecast revenue from deep-sea mining so this is premature.”

Chile

  • The delegation highlighted the absence of certain experts in the ISA’s Legal and Technical Commission, including economic accountants, economists commercial engineers, lawyers, experts in private law and environmental ecologists.

UK

  • The UK stated that “we think that the time has come to take the steps to put the [economic planning] committee in place as the council and the ISA takes forward. It’s important work.”

Canada

  • The delegation stated that the “economic planning commission would contribute a level of expertise that would be complementary to the current work on financial mechanisms of a contract as well as the various mechanisms that will be implemented for the distribution of benefits at the point of exploitation.”

China

  • Stated that discussing “EPC operationalisation now is a little premature.”

Costa Rica

  • Supported the operationalisation of an EPC commenting that it is very important to jump start it so can start developing policies as well as carrying out functions of assessments on price of minerals and supply and demand.

France

  • The delegation stated that it is “a little too soon to create EPC, conditions are not yet there.”

Mexico

  • Supported the operationalisation of the EPC

Jamaica

  • Stated that the EPC should be operationalised before the first plan of work for exploitation is agreed

Argentina

  • The delegation stated that “the time has come to start establishing the EPC.”

Cameroon

  • Supported the operationalisation of the EPC, “given that the mining exploitation of seabeds could begin in the near future.”

Belgium

  • Called for operationalisation of EPC before approval of 1st plan of work for exploitation.

28 Jul 2022

Chile

  • Called for transparency in auditing requesting the Council use the UN auditing system.
  • The delegation expressed their displeasure for the timing of conference centre renovations.
  • They highlighted that relating to program expenses, a report stated that “the council approved a roadmap for the study of the draft regs for exploitation in 2022 which will lead to the finalisation of regs in 2023.” They called for clarification and whether the ISA Secretary General meant to say is that the Council agreed it was necessary to accelerate the work, but that nothing was agreed until everything is agreed.” and they didn’t understand why that line was included.
  • Chile stated that contributions from all members of the authority are of equal value.
  • The delegation stated the importance of considering ecosystem services.

Italy

  • Stated that the ISA is at a critical juncture, so we have a responsibility to make necessary decisions.

Cook Islands

  • Acknowledged the lack or presence of other PSID sponsoring State and note that all perspectives should be presented, asking that that their request be taken into consideration.

Brazil

  • The delegation stated that the promotion of marine research in the Area, is one of the ISA’s main priorities and without this knowledge we do not have a clear idea of the consequences of the mining code and exploitation. Without a clear idea of consequences we cannot make the proper decisions.
  • The delegation also called to increase literacy of ISA members, especially developing countries stating that we need to understand more and need more scholars, more stakeholders, more experts, more exchange of knowledge and ideas. They stated that increasing public knowledge and general deep sea literacy is key. The delegation stated that “We have to make an effort to make this more clear for the whole society to be informed about what we are doing, what are the consequences, what are the limits, the difficulties & challenges”

Costa Rica

  • Costa Rica agreed with other delegates on the importance of seeing the Authority manifest austerity. It is not the right time to support the creation of new, non essential positions.
  • The delegation also reiterated that we have seen several important proposals on the protection of the marine environment, but there is no study on the environmental costs for mining. They stated that this was something agreed upon in March and requested that this be added to the budget, replacing non essential expenditure.
  • The delegation called for the Council to work from documents that the included all comments and not only those of the members of council dating from 2019.
  • Costa Rica responded to the LTC Chair who told the Council that the LTC do not identify contractors not fulfilling obligations, stating that ultimately Council has responsibility for deciding if a contract is extended or not, so think it’s important for the members to know the work of the contractors. Earthworks also called for more transparency and making this information public.
  • Costa Rica stated that the objective of a study on environmental costs of deep-sea mining would be to determine what the value is of what we would be losing. We need to know that there is net benefit to humankind.
  • The delegation called for an inclusive and transparent space wherein scientific experts can work together to define these thresholds.

Ghana (on behalf of the African Group)

  • Stated that the Area and its resources are the Common Heritage of Humankind and exploitation should be carried out for humankind as a whole.
  • The delegation called for any study of environmental costs of deep-sea mining to include valuation of deep sea and services as well as natural capital and cover direct and indirect impacts on seafloor, subsoil and water column, using a low discount rate used for present and future generation. They added that a Separate study to incentivise contractors to exceed legal obligations for marine environmental protection could enhance protection, but goes against polluter pays, which discourages subsidies for environmental protection, and instead requires full internalization.

France

  • Commented “Forgive me but I am lost, which of the documents we are referring to? and later “I don’t understand why we aren’t using the most recent document with all the comments” amid confusion regarding which documents Council were working from.

Belgium

  • The delegation expressed frustration with the process, stating that “it is unfortunate that we are not working with the most recent text available.” The DSCC also expressed disappointment that the full compilation document, reflecting the contributions of all stakeholders, appears to be sidelined suggesting that the massive confusion that has resulted is a direct result of this.

Singapore

  • Pushed back on OceanCare’s call for the ISA to demonstrate that they take women’s inclusion seriously and changing references to ‘mankind’ to ‘humankind’, stating if there are terms used in the convention these should be maintained in the regulations and not be changed
  • The delegation called for an environmental cost study of the impacts of deep-sea mining to include opportunity costs. They also stated that other forms of non-monetary benefits generate value and should be considered.

India

  • Stated that contractors are not only polluters but innovators

Germany

  • Commented that contractors are required to adhere to best environmental practices, but it will be based on the technical abilities of the contractor at the moment of approval. Incentives are to keep improving their technical abilities even after their contract is approved. They stated that contractors who go beyond what is technically required by the contract and should be able to market their goods in a form that is less costly

Trinidad & Tobago

  • Stated that as the area is the common heritage of humankind, every effort should to be taken to ensure best practices are adopted.

Mexico

  • Supported mandatory environmental thresholds and stated that they must be adopted before any exploitation activity.

Argentina

  • The delegation stated that “The establishment of environmental normative thresholds is important for protecting the marine environment as per article 145 of UNCLOS.”

Netherlands

  •  Supported the development of “normative thresholds to effectively protect the marine environment and see it as a priority in development of mining code.”

Nauru

  • Called for contractors should be explicitly mentioned alongside observers and members.
27 Jul 2022

Spain

  • Remarked on the “organization of this meeting, not being in the conference headquarters, and we think every delegations should be able to speak in the language of the United Nations… we are okay with moving forward with English but at the same time, we’re not saying this is the appropriate way of conducting negotiations with the authority because we are forfeiting our rights. We are not native English speakers, so we are in this disadvantage in this negotiation.” The working group facilitator replied that “We absolutely agree with you. We would have expected for all the audio equipment to have been checked before the meeting starts and thrilled to be working… We don’t like it either”.
  • Spain also commented that “when possible, we need to avoid over regulation given that as such, the legal framework is very complex.” The DSCC urged caution with streamlining “if that means principles are to be removed…. Environmental protection, transparency, including access to information, public participation and review procedures, common heritage of humankind, an ecosystem approach, the precautionary principle, polluter pays, accountability, a prohibition on loss of biodiversity, and best available scientific information are all relevant.”

Mexico

  • Called for references to relevant applicable international agreements be deleted. On this issue, the DSCC stated that “We very much regret losing a reference to relevant applicable international agreements- the current proposal would only be referencing ISA documents in isolation to the important body of international law including the BBNJ agreement for example.”
  • The delegation also called for streamlining of text.

Belgium

  •  Stated that they “hope we can finalise some regulations today.”
  • Commented that the longer we wait to go into work on text paragraph by paragraph, the later we will ever come to the finalisation of the negotiations.
  • Called for simplification of text.

United Kingdom

  • The delegation stated that they are keen “not to hold up progress”
  • The UK also questioned referencing other rules of international law.

Norway

  • Queried references to other rules of international law.
  • Stated that there is merit in simplifying the text

Argentina

  • Stated that they had doubts on references to international law, which could “gives rise to legal uncertainties.”
  • The delegation called for references to be made to the precautionary approach rather than principle in regulations.

Ghana (on behalf of the African Group)

  • The delegation urged caution in referring to international treaties and frameworks. They stated that “the BBNJ is still under construction and so if that is what is envisaged, then we really do not know the extent to which it interacts with the rules that we are developing now, and so, we will be cautious around that.”
  • Supported efforts to streamline text.
  • The delegation stated that Article 150 is paramount to take into the interests of developing states, which is fundamental when talking about the common heritage of humankind.

Canada

  • Cautioned the broad reference to rules of international law and that regulations should not refer to all rules of international law.
  • Supported simplification of the text.
  • Commented that “The Authority shall develop, implement, and promote procedures to ensure effective and transparent communications and public participation.” The DSCC stated that under Article 145 of UNCLOS there is a need to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment, not just the promotion of its protection.

Netherlands

  • Stated that they do not wish to have such a broad reference to other rules of international law.

Federated States of Micronesia

  • Stated that “regulations are subject to the provisions of the convention and the agreement and other rules of international law not incompatible with the convention. So, members have already accepted that sort of formulation in the exploration regulations. So perhaps this can be considered going forward in this context.”
  • Supported specific reference to coastal states who are most relevant in the context of the relevant activities in the Area, particularly those who have close proximity to the mine sites.

Korea

  • Shared concerns regarding other rules of international law and that rules and regulations should not create an internal obligation to comply with other rules we do not know.

Chile

  • Called for identification and inclusion of principles and approaches that are not covered in UNCLOS such as transparency and public participation.

France

  •  Stated confusion on what transparent communication should be and how this obligation would reside with the sponsoring state and not the ISA and that they struggled to see the added value of including sponsoring state in this process.

Singapore

  • Called for clarity on to what is being envisioned in concrete terms on transparent communication for sponsoring states.

Tonga

  • Stated that they were not in favour of including the word “relevant” or “adjacent” commenting It is not clear how these would be determined stating that “Article 142 of UNCLOS provides rights for coastal states across whose jurisdiction resource deposits lie. Tonga does not consider that the Authority is required to consult prior to developing measures to implement the regulations. The powers of the ISA to create adopt rules, regulations and procedures are outlined in the convention. It would be inappropriate to restrict powers by way of regulations.”
  • The DSCC commented that scientific research has shown that sediment from the discharge plume can travel over 1,400 km, so using the word adjacent may not cover all affected States and therefore potentially affected states may therefore not be adjacent.
  • Earthworks stated that they did not know why the regulations would not include relevant coastal states broadly due to impacts on the wider pacific, impacts on migratory populations of tunas and turtles could be affected by mining activities in the CCZ.
26 Jul 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.
25 Jul 2022

New Zealand

  • The delegation stated: ” New Zealand shares the concerns that others have expressed about the prospect of deep-sea mining occurring before we have appropriate safeguards in place. This includes robust regulations that ensure the effective protection of the marine environment and sufficient scientific knowledge of the deep ocean, which would allow for robust assessment of the environmental effects of this activity.”
  • “It is New Zealand’s view that mining cannot and should not take place in the absence of these safeguards. New Zealand agrees with those who have expressed the view that paragraph 15 of Section One of the annex to the 1994 agreement does not require the council to adopt exploitation regulations at the end of the two year period. Nor does that require the council to automatically approve a plan of work at that time. Rather, this provision requires the council to make best endeavours to complete regulations within the prescribed timeframe. If that work remains unfinished at the end of the two year deadline, the council was not required to adopt regulations that remain incomplete.”
  • “In saying this, New Zealand will continue to work in good faith in the development of regulations with a strong view to ensuring that any regulations adopted above all ensure the effective protection of the marine environment.”
  • The delegation stated that “Test mining itself is likely to result in harm to the environment. In fact, to understand potential effects, it’s almost necessary that it will result in some harm.”
  • The delegation called for the word “serious” to be deleted from regulations, commenting that serious harm is too high a threshold.
  • New Zealand suggested a proactive approach to prevent unplanned events and that regulations currently only require monitoring and mitigation if harm or serious harm has already occurred, which may be too late.

Mexico

  • Mexico stated that “…Participation by an independent experts should not mean the responsibility is transferred from the contractor. It must be accountable for implementation and any insufficiencies in terms of that implementation. Mexico is not in favour of the plans being of the responsibility of the authority or third party. This is in line with the results based approach under which this draft regulation comes in, which is supported by delegation. In the same vein, my delegation stresses the importance of ramps before expedition activities understand that the planning activities cannot be started unless there’s a ramp in place in the area.”

Chile

  • In line with interventions from France, Chile stated that “All this information must be transparent, published in a legible manner. We’ve had conversations with scientific experts present at ISA meetings, and many of them are not able to read the Deep Data information. I thought it was just me because I’m a bureaucrat… but the scientists themselves can’t either, so something is happening there. We are not fulfilling the responsibility under UNCLOS to publish in a transparent and understandable way the information we are compiling to the scientific community. The information is collected and provided, but we are falling down somewhere. We must fulfil our responsibilities under UNCLOS in this regard and provide the information that is required.”
  • The delegation called to include marine litter and underwater noise in regulations.
  • Chile called to delete the word ‘serious’ from regulations.

Costa Rica

  • The delegation called for “evaluation by independent experts” and called for evaluation to “cover the whole life cycle of contract.”
  • Costa Rica warned that recent studies have shown that underwater noise as a result of deep-sea mining problem is larger than we previously thought.
  • The delegation supported only using the word harm in regulations in line with Art. 145 to prevent “harmful effects” on the marine environment.
  • Costa Rica called for independent auditors to be used.
  • Costa Rica stated that the issue of effective control is vital.

Trinidad and Tobago

  • Called for consideration to be “given to ecological characteristics and recovery time when considering time for independent monitoring.”
  • The delegation supported others in removing the word ‘serious’ from regulations.

United States

  • The delegation called for independent monitoring in addition to monitoring undertaken by contractors and that “the monitoring conducted by the contractor is to occur for the entire duration of the exploitation phase of the mining operation.”

Canada

  • The Canadian delegation raised concerns that test-mining “should not be used as a form of disguised exploitation.”

France

  • The French delegation stated that test mining should be conducted in an area that reflects the zone of future exploitation.
  • The delegation called for regulations to include marine litter and noise, hazards that are now better documented.
  • France called for more clarity on how independent auditors will be chosen by the ISA.

United Kingdom

  • The UK delegation called for test mining to be regulated and have an EIA
  • The delegation also commented that if you go test mining and it doesn’t show harmful effects, then you have effectively checked a box, but the effects of any test mining need to be fed into the larger process (EIAs and EIS) to ensure no harm is done.

Italy

  • Italy called for test mining to be subjected to “robust environmental impact assessment procedures, similar to those envisaged in the exploitation regulations.”
  • The delegation requested to keep marine litter and underwater noise in regulations as these are emerging threats to the underwater environment.

Argentina

  • Called for reference to chemical pollution

Spain

  • Spain requested that noise and litter be included in regulations, which were “particularly important for the fishing sector.”
  • Called for Auditors to be independent so that assessment is rigorous and useful.

Monaco

  • The delegation called to maintain references to noise & marine litter which could be generated by mining activities.

Federated States of Micronesia

  • The delegation proposed “inserting a reference to the coastline in this draft regulation, because in article 145, which talks about the prevention, reduction, and control of pollution and other hazards associated with activities in the area, it does reference the coastline in connection with the marine environment.”
  • FSM supported other delegations who called for removal of “serious” before harm. They asked delegations to consider the use of “serious harm” in other parts in draft regualtions.

Ghana (on behalf of African Group)

  • The delegation called for the deletion of “serious” so that regulations encompass all harmful effects.

Australia

  • Australia supported New Zealand’s proposal to delete ‘serious’ before the word ‘harm’ in regulations.

Russia

  •  Asked who would pay for damage to the marine environment if a contractor doesn’t have any funds to cover the damage.
22 Jul 2022

Costa Rica

  • “I would like to begin by reiterating the call made by Costa Rica on the first day of the meeting, and the request that we as GRULAC made in writing to the Secretariat: let us allocate space within the room for observers: civil society and academics. All these days we have seen empty seats, and tables with leaflets occupying spaces that could be occupied by observers. We cannot fit all of them, but we can assign  3 or 4 places that I am sure they will be willing to take care of distributing among themselves. Preferring empty seats than having  observers in the room is not the image that we as the Authority want to give to the world, at least not the GRULAC delegations. Firstly, it is unacceptable, and secondly, it is a decision for the States Parties.  That is why we join Chile’s call for spaces for observers in this room to be allocated starting next week.”
  • “Humanity faces very serious environmental problems, many of which are directly reflected in the health of our ocean, and which,  because they have not been addressed in time, have been impossible to control, despite all the efforts and commitments achieved. I’m talking about issues like overfishing, biodiversity loss, plastic pollution, climate change.”
  • “But we have now a new situation that could become a terrible threat to the ocean and to the planet that we can do something about.  I am referring the start of seabed mining if we do it before we have enough scientific information to comply with the mandate of the effective protection of the marine environment, as required by Article 145.  This threat has been exacerbated by the activation of what we now know as the two-year rule.”
  • “We have been saying for several days that we believe in the importance of meeting all the strictest environmental standards to protect the marine environment. We have mentioned several articles of Part XII of UNCLOS and we have referred to and quoted the text of Article 145 more than 60 times, my delegation has been keeping track. But what we have not yet said, the real elephant in the room ,is that if we really want to be coherent, the only way to comply with Article 145, at the moment, is to commit ourselves to not start the exploitation of the seabed until we have enough data to be able to make informed decisions.”
  • “In other words, it is not possible to commit to compliance with Article 145, and at the same time insist on starting to mine, knowing that we do not have enough scientific information to be able to effectively protect the marine environment, its ecosystems and biodiversity from the harmful effects of mining. There are many studies by  very respected scientists that detail all these gaps , starting with having the environmental baselines, as mentioned by Mexico, as well as information on the effects and impacts of mining, as mentioned by Germany and hence its proposal for test mining.”
  • “For this we must define environmental objectives and goals, establish a global research agenda that allows us to generate new and sufficient ecological, biological and environmental information on the deep sea and seabed, as well as synthesize existing information.  We cannot make decisions based on evidence if we do not have the necessary information. In other spaces we can talk about “best available science”. Not in relation to the seabed, because there is so little data that is not enough to be able to make informed decisions. Here we must talk about “sufficient scientific evidence”, and that is what we must dedicate ourselves to, to get that evidence.”
  • “Some will say that all mining presents risks to the environment.  And so it is. But seabed mining in the Area is different: it is the only resource we govern as a global community. It is also the only resource in human history that we have the opportunity to regulate before its exploitation is underway.  That is why  we have the enormous responsibility to do it well, taking all the necessary time.”
  • “There are those who express their  concern based in some studies that indicate that in about 30 years the terrestrial mining resources necessary for the transition to electric transportation will run out. 30 years dedicated to the exploration of the deep sea and the seabed would give an immense opportunity to explore it and to be able to make decisions based on enough data to protect its biodiversity and ecosystems.  We are not saying that we have to wait 30 years. But  years are not enough, not three, possibly not five … and certainly the year left until July 2023 is not enough, not even in the projections of the most optimistic, if we are realistic.”
  • “That is why Costa Rica believes that as beneficiaries but also responsible for the  Common Patrimony of Humanity, we must act with caution.  We must act with caution. That caution requires us to implement a precautionary delay to the start of seabed mining. History presents us with a long list of situations that we could have avoided if the precautionary principle or approach had been implemented. Let us not allow this to become a late lesson from an early warning.”
  • “Finally, we want to say that the invocation of Article 15 does not mean that our only option is to pass a regulation in a hurry, one that is clearly unable of fulfilling the duty of protection.  The same article contemplates the possibility that it the regulations might not be concluded, in which case it  says that in case a plan of work  is presented it can be provisionally approved. The conditions of that provisional approval will be our decision. We may put the provisional environmental measures that we consider appropriate, as well as all the conditions that we consider necessary to comply with Article 145. Or we can decide  not to approve it.” 
  • “We do not know what the future will look like, neither for us as delegates nor for the ocean. What is undeniable is that as representatives of our countries and of humanity we have an immense responsibility that fate has placed in our hands. We can get it  right and truly commit ourselves to comply with article 145. Let us continue to work on the elaboration of the most robust and solid regulations , from the environmental point of view, but also from the point of view of transparency and governance;  lets support, encourage and direct resources towards the necessary scientific research; and let us pledge not to submit or approve  plans of work until we have filled the gaps in scientific information and can say  without any doubt, that we can effectively protect the marine environment from any damage arising from activities in the area.”

Canada

  • “Any regulations must ensure effective protection using the precautionary approach using scientific based decision making. This aligns with the high level panel.”
  • “Being a coastal state to 3 oceans, on which we rely on, Canada is a friend of the ocean. We reiterate our commitment to ocean health at the recent UNOC, including our support for 30×30.”
  • “We take note of recent interventions on the 2 year rule and calls for a moratorium, and we look forward to productive discussions so we can decide collectively on the best approach in the spirit of the agreement.”
  • The delegation stated that “it is impossible to offset for damage to the seabed if you consider all the scientific information” and therefore they could not support the term “offset” in regulations.

Belgium

  • Stated a preference for “REMPs for particular areas to be in place before a plan of work for an area can be considered” and that the delegation “Don’t want a tight deadline for developing the REMP, the two year deadline we are currently experiencing leads to shoddy work.”

Ghana

  • Stated that coastal states consultation should “extend to any adjacent coastal states.”
  • Called for the inclusion of a “no mining” scenario.

Germany

  • Shared concerns of Costa Rica on offsetting

Russia

  • The delegation agreed with Costa Rica and others that “indeed it is impossible to offset the harmful effect on the environment”. They continued “However, if any effect is is sustained by the region, perhaps the contractor may offset that by taking action. So, to protect the coral reefs in another part of the global ocean, so, this is a type of an offset so, offsetting measures be taken else where therefore, perhaps as far as offset is concerned”
  • The delegation also queried whether “we should give an alternative is that no deep sea mining is done at all.”
  • Russia also stated that “it is evident that some of the guidelines must be adopted before any plan of work is accepted and of course before exploitation. Without standards and guidelines there will be nothing protecting those areas.”

Federated States of Micronesia

  • Called for reference to the impacts of “light and noise” in regulations.

Tonga

Tonga stated that they were “concerned by the apparent lack of progress in respect to the identification and preparation by the Commission of the phase two standards and guidelines.”