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97 

(for example, its natural environment), if a developing State can be held liable for activities in the Area, the State may potentially face losing more than it actually has.  

2. Discussions on this issue were held with the International Seabed Authority, and it was suggested that a sponsoring State might be able to fulfil its sponsorship obligations and avoid liability if it entered into a contractual arrangement with a contractor under which:  

(a) The State was given the powers to inspect and verify the contractor’s programme of work and carry out an environmental auditing programme; 

(b) The contractor undertook to comply with all terms and requirements of the Authority regulations and the exploration contract.  

3. This solution would provide the sponsoring State with the confidence to participate in the Area, as it would be clear to the State what was required to avoid liability. At the same time, this arrangement would uphold the integrity of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, as the sponsoring State would be in a position to compel the compliance of the contractor.  

4. While the application process was being finalized, however, differing opinions arose from members of the Legal and Technical Commission regarding the interpretation of the provisions in the Convention and the 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the Convention (General Assembly resolution 48/263) that pertain to the responsibility and liability of sponsoring States, and it became apparent that clarification would need to be sought regarding those provisions before moving forward. Without clarity on the issues of responsibility and liability, it is extremely difficult for a developing State to confidently sponsor activities in the Area, as no meaningful assessment can be made of the legal risks and potential liabilities, and it would be impossible to implement mitigating measures to avoid such liabilities with any certainty. As a result, the State would be left exposed to unforeseen liability under international law.  

5. Ultimately, if sponsoring States are exposed to potential significant liabilities, Nauru, as well as other developing States, may be precluded from effectively participating in activities in the Area, which is one of the purposes and principles of Part XI of the Convention, in particular as provided for in article 148; article 150, subparagraph (c); and article 152, paragraph 2. As a result, Nauru considers it crucial that guidance be provided on the interpretation of the relevant sections of Part XI pertaining to responsibility and liability, so that developing States can assess whether it is within their capabilities to effectively mitigate such risks and in turn make an informed decision on whether or not to participate in activities in the Area. Clarification is sought with regard to the following: 

(a) What sponsoring States’ responsibilities and obligations are under Part XI of the Convention. In particular, clarification is sought on the meaning of the terms “ensure”, “securing compliance” and “secure effective compliance”.  

(b) The meaning of the term “ensure” in the context of:  

(i) Article 139, paragraph 1, of the Convention, which provides that “States parties shall have the responsibility to ensure that activities in the Area … shall be carried out in conformity with this Part”;  

(ii) Annex III, article 4, paragraph 4, which states that “The sponsoring State or States shall, pursuant to article 139, have the responsibility to ensure, within their legal systems, that a contractor so sponsored shall carry out activities in the Area in conformity with the terms of its contract and its obligations under this Convention”;  

(iii) Article 153, paragraph 4, which provides that “States parties shall assist the Authority by taking all measures necessary to ensure such compliance in accordance with article 139”.  

6. The term “ensure” is commonly defined as to “make certain” or “guarantee”. In reality, however, no amount of measures taken by a sponsoring State could ever fully ensure or guarantee that a contractor carries out

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