ISA Council Closes Part III of the 28th Session
The Council of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) closed the meetings of Part III of its 28th session on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. The Council met in person for 10 days. A total of 29 of the 36 Members of the Council were in attendance, along with 17 other Members and 19 Observers.
As per the road map agreed during the meetings in November 2022 and revised in July 2023, the priority work of the Council was to continue advancing the negotiations on the draft regulations relating to the exploitation of mineral resources in the Area prepared by the Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) of ISA and submitted to the Council in March 2019 (ISBA/25/C/WP.1). Members of the Council further agreed on the proposed organization of work and modalities proposed by the President of the Council to progress discussions on the draft regulations on exploitation of mineral resources in the Area during the first and second part of the 29th session of the Council, taking into account decision ISBA/28/C/24. Accordingly, members of the Council agreed that a consolidated text of the draft regulations would be prepared under the leadership of the President of the 28th session with the technical assistance of the Secretariat. The main objective of such a consolidated text, which will be subject to further negotiation and discussion, will be to better harmonize and clean the text based on what has been agreed and discussed by delegations so far. In order to prepare the consolidated text, delegations were invited to submit text proposals, if deemed necessary, preferably as joint proposals by 10 December.
The Council also adopted a decision relating to the reports of the Chair of the Legal and Technical Commission (ISBA/28/C/CRP.5/Rev) noting amongst other things, with appreciation the work of the Secretary-General and LTC in monitoring the implementation of the plan of activities, commanding the progress made towards increasing the transparency of exploration contracts, and expressing appreciation for the LTC’s work in revising the draft standardized procedure for the development, review and approval of regional environmental management plans.
Concluding the meetings of the Council, the President of the Council for the 28th session, Ambassador González Mijares, underscored the important achievements. “I wish to thank delegations for all their constructive work and engagement during the 28th session of this Council meetings and for their support to me as the President. I also wish to thank the delegation of Jamaica for their continued hospitality and warmth,” he said.
“Today, if one common denominator was expressed by majority of delegations present at the last session of the Council, is the need to achieve robust, comprehensive, sustainable and workable exploitation regulations as the best guarantor for the protection of the deep-sea marine environment and fulfill the fair and equitable benefit-sharing to all countries,” he concluded.
H.E. Ms. Angella Comfort, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to ISA, recognized the complex task faced by Members of ISA to develop a comprehensive regulatory framework for exploitation. “The Council has made significant strides with its work on a comprehensive regulatory framework for the exploitation of minerals in the Area, particularly towards developing a consolidated negotiating text, which we aim to prepare by the end of this year. The facilitators of the informal working groups have been instrumental in advancing our collective efforts. Jamaica looks forward to refining this text further as we look towards the 29th session,” Ambassador Comfort said.
Dr. Sandip K. Mukhopadhyay, Head of the delegation of India recognized the significant progress in the draft regulations, reiterating the importance of the work of the Council. “We appreciate the effort of the Council Members for constructive and highly engaged discussions. We look forward to a fruitful outcome of the work done during this session. Finally, India confirms full assurance for continued and effective participation in the activities of ISA in achieving its goal,” he noted.
Closing the meetings of the Council and the 28th session, the ISA Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, said, “I extend my heartfelt commendations to the Council and each Member of ISA for the significant strides taken in 2023. The establishment of the regulatory framework is a pivotal element of the progressive methodology inherent in the formation and functioning of ISA as enshrined in the 1994 Agreement. This is a task incumbent upon ISA to execute its duty not only to safeguard the marine environment but also to assure that the rights of all State Parties to undertake activities in the Area are upheld in strict adherence to the ISA’s rules, regulations, and procedures.”
“The fruition of this endeavor stands as the strongest assurance that operations within the Area will be governed by a comprehensive international framework, crafted to avert harm to the marine environment while ensuring the betterment of all humankind. Though daunting and demanding unwavering dedication, the undertaking is decidedly attainable through the continued embrace of the multilateralism that has perennially been the hallmark of ISA’s efforts,” he added.
According to the agreed road map, the Council will hold its first meeting under Part I of the 29th session from March 18–29, 2024.