H.E Satya Nandan

Statement by ISA Secretary-General Michael Lodge

It is with profound sadness that I learned of the passing of H.E Satya N. Nandan who served for an unprecedented three terms as Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA). Through his 12 years of leadership, he built the confidence of the international community in the institution, and the system established for the governance of the resources of the deep seabed.

The fact that the Authority is an important international institution today, effectively exercising its mandate to regulate activities in the deep seabed and promote marine scientific research for the benefit of humanity as a whole, is due to the efforts of Satya Nandan.

Ambassador Nandan’s association with the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) began in 1970. He headed the Fiji delegation to the Sea-bed Committee, the Preparatory Committee for UNCLOS III from 1970 to 1973, and the Fiji delegation to UNCLOS III from 1973 to 1982. He negotiated the regime for archipelagic States and passage through straits used for international navigation. Most notably, throughout this process, he fiercely defended the interests of Fiji and the Pacific Island States. 

After Fiji became the first State to ratify the Convention in 1982, Ambassador Nandan dedicated himself to ensuring that the Convention would enter into force with universal participation. He was also elected Chairman of the UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks that resulted in the ground-breaking 1995 Implementation Agreement, and led to the establishment of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

In his passing, ISA and the international community as a whole have lost a great leader, whose role in the development of UNCLOS and in the establishment of ISA will never be forgotten. His inspirational presence, his wisdom, and his softly-spoken style of finding solutions through dialogue, will be deeply missed by all his colleagues and friends.

Having worked with Satya since 1991, serving as his legal adviser throughout the UN fish stocks conference, the negotiations to establish the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the early years of the ISA, I can say that he has been a great inspiration to me both personally and professionally and our friendship continued until his death. Above all, he taught me that it is one thing to have a vision for the future, but another to have the patience, long term commitment, and opportunity to see that vision realized over a period of more than 30 years.

My heartfelt condolences to Ambassador Nandan’s family, his many friends around the world and to the Government and people of Fiji.


A book of condolences will be open for signature at the Authority’s headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, (14-20 Port Royal Street) as well as the office of the Authority in New York (1 United Nations Plaza, Room 1140) from 27 February 2020 to 17 March 2020, between 12:00-16:00.