The second part of the 27th session of the Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) closed on 29 July 2022 after ten days of meetings held in Kingston, Jamaica. A total of 35 of the 36 Members of the Council attended the session in person or virtually; other Members and 14 observers were also in attendance.
The Council progressed the negotiations on the draft exploitation regulations for mineral resources in the Area within the four working groups it created on i) a financial model and payment mechanism for deep-sea mining, ii) the protection and preservation of the marine environment, iii) inspection, compliance and enforcement and iv) institutional matters.
H.E. Ms. Alison Stone Roofe of Jamaica expressed satisfaction at “productive days of detailed, considered negotiations and useful exchanges, which will take the deliberations of the Council further along our programme of work.”
“The deep-seabed and its resources remain the common heritage of humankind. For under-resourced small island developing States like Jamaica, our ability to participate in regulating and protecting the marine environment and sharing eventual benefits is enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). For Jamaica, an opportunity to further advance the work it began in the creation of UNCLOS and to allow for the translation of any benefits via a highly regulated scientific-based industry is critical,” Ms. Stone Roofe said.
The head of the Singapore Delegation, Mr. Sanjay Nanwani, also welcomed the progress of the Council’s deliberations. “Singapore appreciates the efforts of the facilitators [of the working groups of the Council] to forge consensus on the many complex issues before us. We will continue to contribute actively to these discussions to ensure that any mining activity is subject to robust, clear and comprehensive safeguards for the protection of the marine environment,” Mr. Nanwani said.
During Part II of its 27th session, the Council recommended for the Assembly to adopt the proposed budget of ISA for the financial period 2023–2024. The Assembly will consider the budget during its meetings between 1 and 5 August 2022.
On the recommendation by the Legal and Technical Commission, the Council further adopted a decision to accept to defer by one year the schedule of relinquishment of part of the contract area for polymetallic sulphides as requested by the Institut français de recherche pour l’exploitation de la mer.
The Council adopted a decision relating to the election of members of the Legal and Technical Commission for 2023-2027.
It also approved the memorandum of understanding between ISA and the African Union.
Speaking on behalf of the African Group, Ms. Khalilah Hackman of Ghana commended the substantive progress made over the past two weeks on the key agenda items of the Council and welcomed the work done on the draft exploitation regulations in the context of the informal working groups, in particular. “We welcome the overall commitment of Member States to develop robust exploitation regulations, including standards and guidelines that would ensure effective governance of deep-sea mining in the Area and the protection of the marine environment while ensuring that activities in the Area are carried out for the benefit of all mankind,” Ms. Hackman said.
“We would like to acknowledge the role of women in this process of developing the mining code and welcome the leadership of Ambassador Maureen Tamuno (Nigeria), Ms. Raijeli Taga (Fiji), Ambassador Gina Guillen-Grillo (Costa Rica) and Ambassador Constanza Figueroa (Chile) as facilitators of the informal working groups where the bulk of the regulations are under negotiation,” she added.
Reflecting on the work undertaken in the last two weeks, the Head of the delegation of Argentina, Mr. Federico Gabriel Hirsch, underscored the important role of the ISA Council. “As the executive organ of ISA, the work of the Council has been crucial in supervising and coordinating the implementation of a unique governance regime established by UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement, which promotes and regulates exploration and future exploitation of mineral seabed resources in the Area that is a common heritage of mankind,” he said.
According to the roadmap endorsed by the members of the Council, the 27th session of the ISA Council will be held in three parts. The third and last part of the 27th session of the Council will take place in November 2022.
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