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Secretary-General of ISA Addresses 34th Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS

Secretary-General of ISA Addresses 34th Meeting of States Parties to UNCLOS

The Thirty-Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) opened at the headquarters of the United Nations. H.E. Mr. Duncan Muhumuza Laki, from Uganda, was elected as Chair.

Addressing the meeting, the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), H.E. Mr. Michael W. Lodge, provided an overview of ISA’s significant achievements and ongoing initiatives in the last 12 months with specific emphasis on the progress realized in the development of the draft exploitation regulations for seabed minerals of the Area, sharing updates on exploration activities carried out in the Area, the financial status of ISA, marine scientific research in the Area, and capacity development.

Reflecting on the progress made in the development of the regulatory framework for exploitation, Secretary-General Lodge noted: “This year again, the priority of ISA has been to progress the draft regulations for mineral exploitation in the Area. (…) Although individual States Parties and observers, in some cases, have expressed different positions regarding any possible future activities in the Area, the vast majority of States Parties have expressed their commitment to continue the negotiations in good faith, recognizing the need to work effectively and diligently towards a strong and comprehensive legal framework as mandated by the UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement.”

In recognition of ISA’s unwavering efforts in promoting marine scientific research and capacity development, the Secretary-General remarked, “Since adopting the Action Plan for Marine Scientific Research in support of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, the Secretariat has organized 29 events to promote deep-sea research, including workshops, webinars, information series and side events, involving over 1,000 experts. Additionally, 44 strategic partnerships were forged to deliver it, and 19 Member States and the European Union have provided financial or in-kind support to its strategic research priorities.”

He also mentioned the successful launch of several capacity development initiatives, such as the Joint Training and Research Centre for Africa and the Middle East and the African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy, established to address the specific needs identified by Member States of ISA.

The Secretary-General underscored ISA’s continued commitment to advancing women’s empowerment and leadership in ocean affairs through the Women in Deep-Sea Research project. He indicated that the project had already benefited over 100 women and was reinforced by the launch in 2022 of a mentoring program to enhance career opportunities for women scientists from developing States, particularly those from least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small islands developing states.

“The progress we have made in capacity development has been significantly boosted by the establishment of the ISA Partnership Fund, approved by the Assembly in 2022. I am pleased to inform you that in one year, the ISA Partnership Fund has allocated more than US$1 million to 11 different projects to advance the global deep-sea research agenda, enhance women’s empowerment and leadership in deep-sea research and build the capacity of developing States, particularly least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small islands developing states, in Africa, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean,” he added.

Secretary-General Lodge also stressed the importance of consensus building in the context of UNCLOS, as reflected through the many achievements realized in 30 years. “This year, as we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of ISA, the strength and importance of UNCLOS and its institutions in providing a rules-based order for the seas and oceans that ensure peace, security and international cooperation has never been so strong and yet so fragile at the same time. The regime for the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction provides the best example yet seen of effective multilateral management of shared space. It has taken many decades to reach where we are today. There seems no reason now to deviate from the evolutionary approach that has been consistently applied since 1994. The most important task of ISA is to complete the regulatory framework for deep-sea mining in a timely and responsible manner.”

Mr. Lodge also reported on the financial status, noting that 61 percent of the 2024 budget contributions had been received by May 31, 2024, expressing gratitude for the high collection rate of assessed contributions. He urged States Parties in arrears to settle their dues, emphasizing the crucial role of these contributions to the ISA’s work. He also made a unique appeal for contributions to the voluntary trust fund for the participation of members of the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee, which is currently exhausted.

In concluding his address, the Secretary-General expressed his “most sincere gratitude and thanks to the staff of the Secretariat of ISA whose commitment, integrity and dedication for the work and mandate of this unique organization deserve to be acknowledged and commended. Their professionalism and resilience at a time when extreme political pressure is placed on ISA and its personnel reflects highly on the ability of these individuals to discharge their duties for the common good diligently. My admiration for them and my faith in them have never been so high. I thank all States Parties which have expressed their support for the very hard tasks assumed by the Secretariat over time.”

The Secretary-General’s full statement can be accessed here:

SG Statement Thirty-fourth Meeting of States Parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea


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