This information note has been prepared to facilitate the work of the Authority at its forthcoming session from 8 – 26 July 2013. In accordance with the revised pattern of meetings agreed by the Assembly at the eighteenth session, the first week of meetings, from 8 to 12 July, will be devoted to meetings of the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee. This will ensure that all recommendations of these subsidiary bodies are ready for consideration by the Council during the following week. The Assembly will formally convene on the first day of the main part of the session (15 July 2013), followed by the Council. The Assembly will continue its work when the work of the Council has been completed.
Members of the Authority are reminded that it is the turn of the Eastern European Group to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the Assembly in 2013. It is the turn of the Western European and Others Group to nominate a candidate for the Presidency of the Council.1 Each of the other regional groups will be entitled to nominate a Vice-President of the Assembly and a Vice-President of the Council. There is also a Credentials Committee to be appointed. It will be very helpful to the secretariat, and will also facilitate the smooth running of the session, if regional groups can coordinate on the issue of candidatures in advance of the session in Kingston.
This note oulines main issues for consideration by the Assembly, Council, Legal and Technical Commission and Finance Committee. It is important to note that, as required by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention, 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. The provisional schedule of meetings for the various organs, which is attached with this note, has been designed with this consideration in mind.
I. FINANCE COMMITTEE
The Finance Committee will review the implementation of the budget for the financial period 2013-2014 and related matters, including potential cost-saving measures. It will also consider the audit report for 2012 and make a recommendation on the appointment of an independent auditor for 2013 and 2014.
At its last meeting, the Finance Committee had requested a report from the Secretary-General to be presented to it at its next meeting in 2013 on possible measures to ensure that the cost of administration and supervision of contracts between the Authority and exploration contractors was not borne by member States. Such a report is in preparation and will be provided to the Committee in due course. The recommendations of the Committee on this subject will be submitted to the Council and the Assembly, as appropriate.
II. LEGAL AND TECHNICAL COMMISSION
In accordance with the decision of the Assembly at the eighteenth session, the Legal and Technical Commission will meet twice in 2013. The first meeting was held from 4 to 8 February 2013. Its second meeting will take place from 8 to 15 July.
At its meeting in February 2013, the Commission adopted its agenda and elected its Chairman and Vice-Chairman. The Commission completed its work on the formulation of a comprehensive set of recommendations for the guidance of contractors for the assessment of the possible environmental impacts arising from exploration for marine minerals in the Area. The Commission also completed its work, mandated by the Council in 2011, on amendments to the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the Area. The Council had requested the Commission to amend the Nodules Regulations, which were adopted in 2000, to bring them into line with the more recently-adopted Sulphides Regulations. A recommendation on this matter will be placed before the Council for consideration.
Also at its meeting in February, the Commission considered and recommended for approval by the Council two applications for approval of plans of work for exploration for cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts submitted by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) respectively. Since the February meeting, three further applications for approval of plans of work for exploration have been submitted by the Government of the Russian Federation (cobalt crusts), United Kingdom Seabed Resources Ltd., sponsored by the United Kingdom (polymetallic nodules), and the Government of India (polymetallic sulphides). These, and any other valid applications submitted sufficiently in advance of the meeting, will be taken up during the July session with a view to placing recommendations before the Council.
The Commission will review and consider the annual reports of exploration contractors. These are due to be submitted by 31 March each year. There are now twelve contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules, and two contracts for exploration for polymetallic sulphides, which represents a significant increase in the Commission’s workload. An update on the status of contracts will be presented to the Commission and to the Council.
In the case of the four new applicants that were granted exploration contracts in 2011, proposals for training programmes have been submitted, as required by the Regulations and the contracts, and the secretariat is in the process of soliciting nominations for candidates for these programmes. The Commission will be required to review the nominations that have been received and to advise the secretariat on the selection of eligible candidates for training opportunities.
The Commission is also in the process of considering a preliminary report commissioned by the secretariat on the development of a regulatory framework for exploitation of polymetallic nodules. Any recommendations from the Commission in relation to this matter will be placed before the Council for consideration.
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. The Council will also be required to organize its work for the session. In the event that there are any resignations from the Legal and Technical Commission, the Council will be invited to elect replacement members as soon as the session opens.
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. This will include consideration of the reports and recommendations of the Commission on any new applications for approval of plans of work for exploration in the Area, including the two applications by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) and China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association (COMRA) respectively in respect of which the Commission had adopted its report and recommendations at its meeting in February 2013.
The Council will also be invited to consider a proposal submitted by Nautilus Minerals Inc., (‘Nautilus’) a company incorporated in Canada, to enter into negotiations to form a joint venture with the Enterprise for the purpose of developing eight of the reserved area blocks in the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ). The terms of this proposal are set out in a draft heads of agreement, which is annexed to a report prepared by the Interim Director-General of the Enterprise (ISBA/19/C/4). Under the proposed agreement, Nautilus would work with the Enterprise to develop a proposal for a joint venture operation by 2015. Any such proposal would have to be based on sound commercial principles, as required by the 1994 Agreement. Should the proposal be approved in 2015, the Council may decide to issue a directive for the independent functioning of the Enterprise in accordance with paragraph 2 of Annex to the 1994 Agreement. A report by the Secretary-General, outlining some of the considerations relevant to the above proposal, is also made available to the Council under symbol ISBA/19/C/6.
As noted above, the Council will be invited to consider a report and a proposal by the Legal and Technical Commission relating to the amended Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the Area.
In accordance with the request made by the Council during the eighteenth session, the Secretary-General will provide the Council with an update of the study of the laws, regulations and administrative measures adopted by sponsoring States and other members of the Authority with respect to activities in the Area that was presented to the Council in 2012 (ISBA/18/C/8).
The Council will also take up the issue of consideration of measures for the recovery of the costs related to the administration of exploration contracts with the Authority, as agreed at the eighteenth session and reflected in its decision ISBA/18/C/29, with a view to adopting, as a matter of urgency, measures which are fully consistent with the Convention and the Agreement. In this regard, the Council may receive a report and recommendation from the Finance Committee.
The Council will also consider such other proposals and recommendations that may be referred to it by the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee of the Authority.
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 nineteenth session. In the event that there are any resignations from the Finance Committee, the Assembly will be invited to elect replacement members as soon as the session opens. The matters for consideration by the Assembly during the nineteenth session include consideration of the annual report of the Secretary-General, pursuant to article 166, paragraph 4, of the Convention, and consideration and approval of the amended regulations on prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Area.
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, including the Finance Committee.
1 On 27 March 2013, the Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, as Chairman of the Western European and Others Group, informed the secretariat that the Group had endorsed the candidacy of Mr Tobias Pierlings (Germany) for the Presidency of the Council in 2013.
10 April 2013