France – Key statements

Date: 10 November 2022

March 2023


  • France agrees with the numerous states today that pronounced themselves in favor of a precautionary pause at a minimum,
  • As stated by Macron, the general uncertainty makes it too early to start with this activity without strong Rules, Regulations and Procedures. Thus we cannot approve a Plan of Work for exploitation and we must take all the time require to develop those rules. 
  • We support position of Netherlands in that section one paragraph 15 of the 1994 agreement cannot in any case, lead to the automatic approval of a plan of work for exploitation.
  • The LTC would not be able to make a formal recommendation in favor or not of Plan of Work.


  • Agrees with Canada and Germany that some requirements for environmental impact assessments should be binding.
  • Stated that: “It is stated for seafloor massive sulphide projects the modification of vent fluid discharges, if present should be addressed if this means that this draft regulation leaves the possibility open for a contractor to propose an exploitation on an active site without banning it, a priori. Our position is to consider that the active hydrothermal sites are vulnerable marine ecosystems and therefore, they should not be considered And we should not consider that the associated mineral resources with the systems which harbor specific biodiversity unique biodiversity, we consider that this exploitation is not possible”


  • Supported Spain and Micronesia on the the inclusion of marine litter and underwater noise stating “These are very important matters for our delegation, particularly underwater noise because it is pollution that has become more and more prominent and we’re learning more and more about the impact on mammals and ecosystems for example.”

October/November 2022


  • France reiterated President Macron’s call at COP27 for a ban on deep-sea mining.
  • “On 7 November 2022, at COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh, the President of the French Republic declared that France supports the banning of any deep seabed mining and that it would defend this position in the international forums. This strong and overt position has raised a lot of interest and many questions from our international partners, in particular within the forum of the International Seabed Authority.
  • France’s commitment is simply the reflection of the sentiment of urgency and major concern that we are all experiencing faced with the need to protect the ocean, and with it humanity. This commitment is evidently based on science, which reminds us of the essential role of the marine ecosystem in the stabilization of the climate and the protection of biodiversity. As the effects of climate change become increasingly threatening and the erosion of biodiversity continues to accelerate, today it does not seem reasonable to hastily launch a new project, that of deep seabed mining, the environmental impacts of which are not yet known and may be significant for such ancient ecosystems which have a very delicate equilibrium. This concern was already expressed by President Macron last June in Lisbon, on the side-lines of the United Nations Ocean Conference.
  • Currently, given the absence of scientific knowledge, we cannot today guarantee that mining mineral resources in the Area would not cause irreversible damage to the seabed and its biodiversity. That is why France, which has the second-largest exclusive economic zone, calls on its partners to make the same commitment to preserve this highly valuable marine ecosystem. Our precautionary principle must translate into tangible action, for the benefit of all humankind.
  • At the same time, exploration to improve our scientific knowledge of the deep seabed must not only continue, but grow, particularly in a framework of international cooperation among researchers around the world. The deep seabed must be what space was during the Cold War: a new frontier for cooperation and multilateralism.
  • In that respect, France wants to further contribute to this cause by continuing the training activities undertaken and by facilitating the dissemination of the data collected under exploration contracts. This is to make use of and share the information and scientific knowledge acquired in the interest of all.
  • Lastly, our position is aligned with France’s continued desire to address global matters that are of interest to all entirely transparently, proactively and in the framework of effective multilateralism.
  • From the outset, France has been and continues to be a fervent supporter of the Authority, the single mission of which has, to this day, enabled the common heritage of mankind that is the Area and its deep seabed to be protected. By issuing exploration contracts, the ISA has usefully contributed to the acquisition of fundamental knowledge to tackle these challenges.
  • When the ISA was created by the Montego Bay Convention, almost 30 years ago now, the challenges that we face today, the urgency of climate action and the collapse of biodiversity and its ecosystem services, were not the same, however. Our collective work must fully incorporate these challenges today. We must therefore allocate the time needed, which will be much more than initially envisaged, without any industrial or financial pressure, and without letting this work be guided by concerns other than those that are the fruit of knowledge and the need to protect marine ecosystems. As environmental imbalances challenge the living conditions of humankind, it would be dangerous to act with haste, endangering these ecosystems that could be sources of solutions and resilience in the future.
  • As of now, we are therefore joining all the States that are truly concerned by the protection of this common heritage that is the marine environment and its biodiversity, and who have recently expressed in various ways their concerns over deep seabed mining. In this forum, we are of course open to constructive dialogue with all of your governments and the ISA so that we can make inclusive progress on the knowledge of the seabed for the good of humankind”


  • France stated that they “support the countries that made an appeal for a precautionary pause absent of mining code, which means that no exploitation contract can be authorized by the authority as long as a legal framework sufficiently that protects the environment sufficiently will not be in place.”


  • Stated that “We are convinced that we need to ensure broad consultant consultation with all interested stakeholders on REMPs because we’re talking about the world the global environment and the common heritage of mankind. So we need to associate the non governmental organisations and society writ large as well as the scientific community.”


  • France stated “If we can’t do any reparations to the environmental damage in the in situ, where the damage occurred, we could act elsewhere. It’s a principle of compensation. If you cut down a tree here, you have to plant another tree, but you could plant it elsewhere from where you chop down the first tree.”


  • France stated “It’s all well and good to speak about geographic representation and gender parity but we also need to be practical and in certain professions, which is hard professions, rigs, inspections, there are a lot more men than women. So I believe we should not deprive us of competent people for gender considerations, but of course we all agree we should favour the participant of the participation of women in all issues pertaining to the Law of the Sea.”

July/August 2022


  • The delegation stated that it is “a little too soon to create EPC, conditions are not yet there.”


  • Commented “Forgive me but I am lost, which of the documents we are referring to? and later “I don’t understand why we aren’t using the most recent document with all the comments” amid confusion regarding which documents Council were working from.


  •  Stated confusion on what transparent communication should be and how this obligation would reside with the sponsoring state and not the ISA and that they struggled to see the added value of including sponsoring state in this process.


  • The French delegation stated that test mining should be conducted in an area that reflects the zone of future exploitation.
  • The delegation called for regulations to include marine litter and noise, hazards that are now better documented.
  • France called for more clarity on how independent auditors will be chosen by the ISA.


  • France considered that “It is extremely difficult to set thresholds due to lack of scientific knowledge and therefore we encourage a continuation of scientific research in order to be able to determine these thresholds as precisely as possible. In order in order to protect the environment as effectively as possible, we might suggest to add an indicator on pressure, for example, that leads to the destruction of habitats”
  • The delegation supported the inclusion of the “precautionary principle.” 


  • France began by stating that they were attached to the ISA’s mandate of “managing protecting and using the resources of the area which are a common heritage of humanity, as well as its action, which has allowed for the conservation of the seabed and regulating the access and banning any activity which will lead to destruction of ecosystems”.
  • They went on to add that “we are all aware that our organization needs to heed the alarm bells that were launched in Lisbon.”
  • They highlighted that “we need to maintain dialogue with civil society” and the “crucial importance that we give to the measures pertaining to environmental protection and to protecting biodiversity.” They added that “from this point of view the Lisbon UN Conference on oceans that happened in June makes us think that there is a before Lisbon after Lisbon.”
  • France stated that they the adoption of a strong legal framework “is a prior condition before we authorize any plan of work.”
  • The delegation added that they wanted to remind that “it it has never interpreted the rule of the two years in June 2021 for the adoption of the mining code between now and June 2023 as an obligation for the Council to approve temporarily and automatically any plan of work which would be presented before as soon as of July 2022. It does not seem to be acceptable to authorise a plan of work to put exploitation of the resources in the area without a legal framework solid at protecting the marine environment and ensuring a sustainable use of the resources to the benefit of humanity as a whole and by banning any project which would lead to irrevocable destruction of the marine environment.”


  • In spite of President Emmanuel Macron’s statement at UNOC, the call for a stop to mining in the high seas has clearly not filtered through to the French delegation at the ISA. 
  • France also stated that scientific information collected by contractors is useful. “We continue to encourage the Secretariat toward providing clear access to science information and data for the scientific community, this is what makes science move ahead. Most data is supplied by contractors themselves and is very useful.” This is troubling as rather than contractors marking their own work, impartial deep sea science is critical.
  • Along with Morocco, France opposed reinstating the live broadcasting of the meeting on UN Web TV. When Costa Rica asked for a vote, both countries backed down from this position.

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