The International Seabed Authority (ISA) Council continued its discussions on Monday morning in plenary, addressing standing items on its agenda. In the afternoon, the Working Group on institutional matters started its deliberations.
During discussions in plenary, delegates delivered general interventions and focused on:
- the report on the status of exploration contracts;
- the report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Enterprise and the relevant draft decision on the operationalization of the Enterprise, including the appointment of an interim director general; and
- the operationalization of the economic and planning commission.
Secretary-General Michael Lodge presented the report on the status of contracts and exploration and related matters, including information on the periodic review of the implementation of approved plans of work for exploration (ISBA/28/C/3). He noted that 30 exploration contracts are currently in force, adding that pending reports on periodic reviews have been received by contractors. He also reported on contracts’ extension and the status of relinquishments. The Council took note of the report.
Eden Charles, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Enterprise, presented his report (ISBA/28/C/2). He stressed the need to operationalize the Enterprise, consistent with the evolutionary approach provided to in the 1994 Implementing Agreement, which contemplates, among others, the appointment of an interim director general.
Ghana, for the African Group, presented the draft decision for the appointment of an interim director general for the Enterprise (ISBA/28/C/L.2).
The Netherlands, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, India, the UK, Tonga, Fiji, and others supported the draft decision in line with the step-by-step approach for the operationalization of the Enterprise. Chile, supported by Argentina, Costa Rica, and Spain, stressed the need to establish the requirements and functions to be carried out by the interim director general of the Enterprise, including a discussion on the relevant terms of reference. The Russian Federation, the Republic of Korea, Brazil, Mexico, China, Belgium, Tonga, and others noted the importance of addressing the relevant budgetary and administrative considerations.
ISA Council President Juan José González Mijares (Mexico) invited delegations to engage in an informal dialogue in order to reach consensus on the draft decision by the end of the week.
On the operationalization of the economic planning commission, Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, and others supported the timely operationalization of the economic and planning commission, urging retaining the item on the agenda for subsequent sessions. Ghana and Brazil pointed to the need to address the impacts of seabed mining on land-based mining operations. Spain, China, and France welcomed the idea to start discussions on the operationalization of the economic and planning commission, noting the need to engage in careful, detailed considerations regarding the conditions for its establishment. Discussions will continue.
In general statements, many delegates underscored that no mining exploitation should commence before a complete set of regulations ensuring environmental protection are in place, including standards and guidelines, an inspection mechanism, and necessary institutional arrangements. France highlighted the Partnership for the Deep Sea, calling for, among others, a precautionary pause on deep sea mining, which would allow for increasing relevant scientific knowledge and ensuring the effective protection of the marine environment.
In the afternoon, the Working Group on institutional matters, co-facilitated by Georgina Guillén Grillo (Costa Rica) and Salvador Vega Telias (Chile), started its deliberations. Delegates addressed the modification of a plan of work by a contractor, with many stressing the need for a clear definition of material change. They further discussed the review of a plan of work, including: which events or changes of circumstance shall trigger such review; the relevant ISA organ to take decisions; and the need to clarify how the envisaged review mechanisms complement each other.
Text written and edited by Asterios Tsioumanis, Ph.D., María Ovalle, and Pam Chasek, Ph.D.
All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For the 1st Part of the 28th Annual Session of the ISA, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Diego Noguera
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