PRESS RELEASE | 13 August 2019
Senior governments officials and experts from Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) of the four sponsoring States (Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Tonga) convened at regional workshops held in Nauru and Kiribati, last week to boost the capacity of P-SIDS in marine scientific research and raise awareness of the legal aspects of deep seabed activities undertaken beyond national jurisdiction.
Experts from Singapore, the United Kingdom, New Zealand as well as international and regional organizations (Commonwealth Secretariat, Pacific Community) and representatives of contractors sponsored by Pacific States (GSR, Nori, Marawa) were also in attendance.
Organized by the International Seabed Authority (ISA), in partnership with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) and hosted by the Governments of the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Kiribati, the workshops provided a unique opportunity for participants to gain a better understanding of the role and responsibilities of sponsoring States in the exploration of deep sea mineral resources as well as in the field of marine scientific research.
In his opening statement delivered at the workshop held in Yaren, Nauru, from 7 to 8 August 2019, the President of the Republic of Nauru, Hon. President Waqa, emphasized the importance given by Nauru to its role as a sponsoring State and its determination to fulfil all its obligations as set out by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and other international law instruments. Highlighting the fact that these workshops aimed to address the specific needs of P-SIDS sponsoring States, the President added that such initiatives would allow the “identification of their special needs as a critical means to promote and facilitate participation of P-SIDS sponsoring States in the Area [the international deep seabed] with a view to achieving their Blue Economy objectives.”
Recalling the essential role played by Nauru in the 2010 request for an Advisory Opinion presented by the ISA Council to the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on the responsibilities and obligations of sponsoring States, with respect to activities in the Area, the Secretary-General of ISA, Mr. Michael W. Lodge, highlighted the commitment of P-SIDS sponsoring States’ to lead by example.
“The Advisory Opinion rendered by the Seabed Disputes Chamber clarified that the obligation of sponsoring States is to exercise due diligence to ensure that the sponsored entity complies with the terms of its contract with ISA and with obligations under UNCLOS,” said Mr. Lodge. This is “a pro-active obligation, involving high standards of monitoring and enforcement, effective domestic laws and regulations no less effective than ISA, ongoing review, appropriate and effective regulatory and administrative systems,” he added.
Welcoming all participants to Kiribati for the workshop held from 12 to 13 August 2019, the Hon. President of the Republic of Kiribati, H.E Taneti Maamau, commended the role played by ISA and UN-DESA in supporting the needs of sponsoring developing States to fulfil their responsibilities under international law, in order to ensure that they could fully participate in activities undertaken in the Area.
“We are grateful for ISA to have come to our shores to organize this important workshop which will contribute significantly to enhance our efforts to comply with all our responsibilities under UNCLOS,” said the Hon. President of the Republic of Kiribati. “Beyond the fact that through this initiative, each of the P-SIDS sponsoring States will strengthen its institutional and technical capacities, it also needs to be commended as the Pacific solidarity will be at the forefront of the future sustainable development of deep seabed mineral resources,” he added.
Held from 7 to 8 August in Nauru, and 12 to 13 August 2019 in Kiribati, the workshops are part of the joint ISA-UNDESA ‘Abyssal initiative for Blue Growth.’ This initiative is one of the seven Voluntary Commitments made by ISA at the 2017 UN Ocean Conference to advance implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources (#OceanAction16538).
Panellists included representatives from the Pacific Community; Foreign Commonwealth Office, UK; Commonwealth Secretariat; Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore; Crown Law Department, Tonga; Seabed Minerals Authority, Cook Islands; and GSR, Nori and Marawa.
For more information about the ‘Abyssal initiative for Blue Growth,’ visit: bit.ly/PSIDS_VC5
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