On the Report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the decision of the Council in 2022 relating to the reports of the Chair of the Legal and Technical Commission (ISBA/28/C/15)
Thank you Mr President and Good morning delegates. This intervention is delivered on behalf of Greenpeace International, Oceans North, the Ocean Foundation, WWF and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Thank you Mr President and thanks to the Secretary-General for the report.
We note that the report states in paragraph 5 that as of 31 May 2023, the Secretary-General had not identified any instances of alleged non-compliance by contractors in relation to their operations at sea or in the conduct of their plans of work for exploration.
However, the CARMU Report on the NORI spill Doc. No: INV/2023/NRU/001/Supp.1 found in paragraph that the collector system component test Inspection report of 20 February 2023 considers that NORI’s risk management and I quote “lacked the expected robustness. Decision-making, incident management and execution were not rooted in a robust risk-based assessment, and Contractor personnel on board the Hidden Gem did not fully apply internally established risk management tools and procedures during the event“ end of quote.
The report went on to say that no accurate flow rate could be produced. No water sampling was made during the normalization phase of the surface water’s appearance and no photographs were taken during the surface plume dispersion process.
The report further found that the “Contractor should, and could, have notified ISA of the event and the action taken to control it, within a much shorter time frame. In fact, ISA was not notified until 16 days after the event. It is suggested that the Contractor could reasonably have notified ISA within 24-48 hours.”
If these were not considered findings of non-compliance, then in our view they should have been.
To turn to the late submissions of reports, mentioned in paragraphs 7 and 8 of the report, it is also difficult to understand why the contractors who reported very late are not named, in the interests of transparency, and we join Fiji in their observations on this.
Turning to paragraph 20, on the silence procedure, we believe that the LTC Chair’s report on the silence procedure did not address the key issue “The Commission noted that it would continue to use the silence procedure in combination with its remote and in person plenary meetings and will consider the flexibility of the time limit of 72 hours”. The silence procedure has been used within the ISA and other international organizations during COVID-19 to pass matters such as the budget when the relevant body cannot meet. It is not appropriate to force such a rapid decision on a substantive matter such as approval of an EIA. If the Commission is not able to meet in person, it could meet virtually, rather than simply send out an email where a non-reply within 3 days is taken to signify consent.
Finally, it seems from paragraph 22 of the report that, as has happened for the last 5 years, the requests of the LTC to hold open meetings have been ignored, and certainly have not been actioned, and we join Brazil and Belgium on their comments on this.
On DR 6
Thank you Co-facilitators and it is good to see you at the podium again.
Your presentation was very helpful. In particular, you looked at what it must mean in UNCLOS, which is of course where we must look. Because the current so-called regulatory approach cannot be right. We fully support the proposed webinar
In effect, all an applicant needs to do is to incorporate a shell company inside the sponsoring State, make the application in the name of that entity and effective control is satisfied.
An example may help. We wrote letters when TMC’s predecessor DeepGreen took over TOML from Nautilus to seek to clarify how the ISA considered the transaction satisfied the test of effective control, but no satisfactory response was received.
Last month, the ISA placed on its website a paper on effective control. The paper can be found under the publications tab on the website.
The Wolmesley discussion paper and the 2019 Andre Rojas and Freedom Kai Phillips papers reach very different conclusions, underlining the need for a considered discussion. This is a crucial issue which has been all but ignored year upon year.
We have long had concerns about the lack of discussion in the Council about effective control and what we believe is an appropriate so-called regulatory test which has been applied by the ISA.
This latest paper gives us no comfort. It does not even refer to the paper published in 2019 by the ISA by Andrés Sebastián Rojas and Freedom-Kai Phillips, where the authors analysed the UNCLOS provisions and concluded that “an interpretation of effective control that is limited only to regulatory control would miss key objectives of the LOSC, “and that “economic control analysis is also needed to fulfill the concept of “effective control” under the LOSC, thereby providing a distinct alternative to nationality”.
It is high time that there was an in-depth discussion of effective control, hopefully in a workshop context as has been suggested in the institutional working group.