INFORMAL WORKING GROUP ON INSTITUTIONAL MATTERS
Thank you. We just have a brief observation to bring to the attention of delegates. ITLOS said in its Advisory Opinion that It should be stressed that the obligation to conduct an environmental impact assessment is a direct obligation under the Convention and a general obligation under customary international law, and likewise we would add that the precautionary principle is also part of customary international law.
DR 2 – Paragraph 2
We just have a comment on the title as well as the discussion taking place at the moment about principles versus policies.
On the title, we believe that Draft Regulation 2 must revert to being called fundamental principles, as it should include critical principles such as the common heritage of humankind, the precautionary principle, effective protection of the marine environment and no loss of biodiversity. These principles are cornerstones of the Convention and international environmental law and are by their nature fundamental and cannot be weighed against other matters. They’re critical to the interpretation and application of regulations.
So likewise, we do not support policies and approaches being included in the title as they are by their nature weighed against each other, whereas fundamental principles such as the common heritage of humankind cannot be displaced by other principles or policies.
DR 2 – Paragraph 3
On Paragraph 3 we think this is an important provision, placing in context the relevant provisions of the Convention. It is also relevant to the expressed concerns and positions of an increasing number of countries on the importance of adequate scientific evidence.
Given that a number of delegations have said they agree with the objective and content, we suggest it should be left here for now. We cannot presuppose what will happen later, so it should not be deleted. On the face of it, and as it stands, it provides important guidance to the Authority, in underlining the need for adequate scientific evidence, the importance of preventing harmful changes to the marine environment.
DR 2 – Paragraph 4
In Paragraph 4, we do continue to suggest there should be fundamental principles reflecting Article 145 paragraphs (a) and (b) which would in addition to the items from roman numeral (i) to (vii) include that:
- There will be no loss of biodiversity;
- That rare or fragile ecosystems and their habitat will not be depleted or threatened;
- That species will not be endangered;
- That other forms of marine life will be protected;
- And, that there will be no interference with marine ecosystems and their resilience, or with ecosystem services, underwater cultural heritage or other harmful effects, including ecological balance, biological diversity and ecological integrity;
- Robust and independent science.
We also suggest that the definitions of an ecosystem approach, referring to the CBD Decision V/6 and of the polluter pays principle according to Principle 16 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development need to be re-inserted as well as the best available science and information, and the precautionary principle according to Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration.
On transparency, we welcome the currently proposed provisions on access to data and information, and note that under Article 14 of Annex III of UNCLOS, Data necessary for the formulation by the Authority of rules, regulations and procedures concerning protection of the marine environment and safety, other than equipment design data, shall not be deemed proprietary.
We like both Germany’s proposal of public participation and also Norway’s suggested term stakeholder participation as well as Nigeria’s suggestion of both. What is important is that there is participation in decision-making.
Finally on inter-generational equity, those who were at our side event yesterday will have seen a powerful argument and example of the importance of including younger generations throughout decision-making processes.
There is after all ample precedent in Principle 3 of the Rio Declaration for the needs of present and future generations.
We know that pollution, such as from plumes, can travel well beyond contract areas and indeed beyond adjacent States – with some estimates suggesting thousands of kilometers, though it could be further. This pollution may affect for example fish populations that may themselves travel beyond the affected area, such as tuna.
These issues involve the interests and concerns of any state, not just coastal States.
This discussion underlines that we know so little about the effects of seabed mining and their scope that it is impossible to even craft effective regulations. This fully supports the calls for a moratorium, precautionary pause or ban.