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Fourteenth Session

INFORMAL NOTE ON MATTERS BEFORE THE FOURTEENTH
SESSION OF THE INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY
 
26 May - 6 June 2008
Kingston, Jamaica

This information note has been prepared to facilitate the work of the Authority at its forthcoming session from 26 May to 6 June 2008.  The note identifies the matters that are to be considered by the Assembly, Council, Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee. The proposed schedule of meetings is also attached with this note.

It should be noted that, in accordance with the Convention and the Agreement, a number of substantive matters have to be sequentially considered by different organs of the Authority before a final decision on them can be taken. These matters include the budget and the scale of assessment of contributions to the budget, as well as the election of the Secretary-General. The schedule of meetings for the various organs, which is attached with this note, has therefore been designed with this consideration in mind.

The schedule of meetings proposed in this note would need to be adjusted in the event that any application is made for approval of a plan of work for exploration.

I. OVERVIEW OF THE SESSION

During the fourteenth session there will be an election for one-half of the members of the Council.  The Assembly will be required to elect a Secretary-General from among the candidates proposed by the Council.  The Authority is also required to consider and adopt a budget and scale of assessment for contributions to the budget for the financial period 2009 to 2010.  The Assembly will consider the annual report of the Secretary-General. 

It is the turn of the Eastern European group to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the Assembly.  It is the turn of the Group of Western European and Other States to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the Council.  It is the turn of the Asian group to designate the member of the Council that will participate in the deliberations without the right to vote in 2008 in order to achieve equitable geographical representation in the Council.

The main substantive work for the Council is to continue work on the draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides in the Area, whilst the Legal and Technical Commission will continue its work on draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts and submit the draft for consideration by the Council.

II. FINANCE COMMITTEE

The Finance Committee will review the proposed budget of the Authority for the financial period 2009 to 2010.  The proposed budget and the scale of assessment for contributions to the budget will then be considered sequentially by the Council and the  Assembly, taking into account any recommendations by the Finance Committee.

The Finance Committee will also consider the audit report for 2007, as well as reports on the status of the voluntary trust fund and the International Seabed Authority Endowment Fund.

III. LEGAL & TECHNICAL COMMISSION

At its last meeting in 2007, the Legal and Technical Commission requested the Secretary-General to consider the possibility of convening an intersessional meeting in order to enable it to complete its work on the draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for cobalt-rich crusts. In view of the financial implications of holding an additional meeting, however, the Finance Committee recommended instead to hold an extended meeting of the Commission immediately prior to the fourteenth session.  Accordingly, it is proposed that the Commission will commence its meetings one week prior to the main session of the Authority, from 19 to 23 May 2008.

The main work of the Commission will be to continue its consideration of the draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for cobalt-rich crusts. It will be recalled that the draft regulations were submitted to the Commission following a decision of the Council at the twelfth session in 2006 to separate the regulations for polymetallic sulphides and the regulations for cobalt-rich crusts. In light of that decision, the Secretariat revised the original draft regulations that had been contained in document ISBA/10/C/WP.1/Rev.1* (which dealt with both polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich crusts) to produce two separate documents. The document under consideration by the Commission is ISBA/13/LTC/WP.1*.

In addition, the Commission will review and consider the annual reports of contractors submitted pursuant to the regulations for prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Area. The newest contractor, Germany, has recently submitted its training programme to the Authority and the Secretary-General has invited members of the Authority to nominate duly qualified candidates to take part in this training programme. The Commission will be required to make a selection from among the list of qualified candidates.

The Secretary-General will provide the Commission with reports on the outcomes of a study on biodiversity, species ranges and gene flow in the abyssal Pacific nodule province (the Kaplan project) as well as on the Authority’s project to establish a geologic model of the Clarion-Clipperton Zone. The Commission will also be invited to consider a proposal to establish preservation reference areas in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone.  Finally, the Commission will be provided with a report on the outcomes of the Authority’s workshop on deep-sea mining technology, held in Chennai, India, in February 2008.

IV. COUNCIL

The first item of business for the Council will be the election of a President and vice-Presidents, followed by the adoption of the agenda for the fourteenth session.

The main item of business for the Council will be to continue its consideration of the revised draft regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides (ISBA/13/C/WP.1). During the thirteenth session in 2007, the Council held a general debate on the draft regulations and was also given a briefing by an expert on global exploration models for polymetallic sulphide deposits in the international area.  The Council then commenced a detailed examination of the revised draft regulations.  By the end of the session, the Council had completed a detailed reading of regulations 1 to 43 and had agreed on revisions to some of those regulations.  An informal text of the agreed revisions (ISBA/13/C/CRP.1) was provided to all delegations.  The Council agreed that it would take up a number of issues which had been left pending, as well as annexes 1 to 4 to the draft regulations, in 2008.

To assist the Council further in its deliberations, and following the success of previous such initiatives, one morning during the session will be devoted to a technical briefing on issues of relevance to the Council’s work. As in previous years, the briefing will take the form of presentations by experts, followed by an opportunity for questions and answers.

In accordance with article 162, paragraph 2(b), of the Convention, the Council is required to propose to the Assembly a list of candidates for the election of the Secretary-General, whose term of office expires on the 31 December 2008.

In accordance with its usual practice, the Council will also be provided with a report on the work of the Legal and Technical Commission during the session and will take up any matters referred to it by the Commission.

V. ASSEMBLY

The first item of business for the Assembly will be the election of a President and Vice-Presidents, followed by the adoption of the agenda for the fourteenth session.

The matters for consideration by the Assembly during the fourteenth session include the election of the Secretary-General in accordance with article 166, paragraph 2, of the Convention, the election of one-half of the members of the Council in accordance with article 161 of the Convention, consideration of the annual report of the Secretary-General and the adoption of the budget of the Authority and the scale of assessment for contributions to the budget.

It will be recalled that, in accordance with article 161, paragraph 3, of the Convention, an election took place in 2006 for one-half of the members of the Council in each of the five interest groups referred to in paragraph 15 of Section 3 of the Annex to the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention.  The terms of office of the remaining one-half of the members of the Council who were elected in 2004 will expire on the 31 December 2008.  It is therefore necessary for the Assembly to elect 19 new members of the Council for the period 1 January 2009 to 31 December 2012.

It should be noted that the 1994 Agreement, Annex, Section 3, paragraph 9, requires the Assembly, before electing the members of the Council, to establish lists of countries fulfilling the criteria for membership in each of the interest groups.  In order to facilitate the work of the Assembly in this regard, the Secretariat has in the past prepared informal papers, on the basis of available data and statistics, setting out indicative lists of member States which would fulfil the criteria for membership in the various interest groups in the Council.  Such indicative lists will, once again, be prepared by the Secretariat for the 14th session. Statistics concerning investment in seabed activities will require the cooperation of the relevant member States.

The proposed budget of the Authority for the financial period 2009 – 2010 and the proposed scale of assessment for contributions to the budget will be considered by the Assembly after the proposals have been considered in sequence by the Finance Committee and the Council.  These matters will therefore be taken up in the second week of the session.

As required by article 166, paragraph 4, of the Convention, the Secretary-General will present his annual report to the Assembly for its consideration.  The report will describe the work of the Authority since the thirteenth session and will indicate the main trends of the future work programme for the Secretariat.

The Assembly will also consider such other proposals and recommendations that may be referred to it by the other organs and subsidiary bodies of the Authority.

Kingston, Jamaica
29 February 2008