United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mr. Michael Lodge, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority

PD7: Implementing international law (Panelist) Friday 9 June, 10:00-13:00
Partnership Dialogue 7: Enhancing the conservation and sustainable use of
oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in
the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea
Friday 9 June 2017, 10:00 – 13:00, Conf. Room 4
Panelist remarks by H. E. Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General, International
Seabed Authority
In setting aside the seabed and ocean floor beyond national jurisdiction as the
common heritage of mankind, to be managed through an international
organization on the basis of equality between States, the international
community embarked upon a unique experiment in international relations.
Part XI of UNCLOS establishes a comprehensive legal regime that is designed to
achieve the sustainable use of marine mineral resources for the benefit of
mankind as a whole. The system is intended to ensure equity in access to and
allocation of resources, long-term sustainability in terms of protection of the
marine environment and equitable sharing of benefits with respect to sharing of
scientific knowledge of the deep seabed as well as financial and economic
PD7: Implementing international law (Panelist) Friday 9 June, 10:00-13:00
In the 35 years since UNCLOS was adopted, much progress has been made
towards achieving these objectives. In large part, credit must be given to the 1994
Implementation Agreement on Part XI, which reset the provisions of Part XI to
reflect profound political changes since 1982.
Since 1994, steady progress has been made to establish ISA as a lean, efficient
and low cost institution that exercises no more powers than are strictly necessary
to perform the functions expected of it by its member States. An evolutionary
approach has been taken to the stepwise development of regulations that have
has permitted exploration to proceed in a systematic manner. No State or entity
has even considered the possibility of unilateral action outside UNCLOS.
This has inspired confidence in the system, so that today we have 28 exploration
projects in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. As envisaged by the
Convention, these projects involve States, state enterprises and private
corporations from both developed and developing States. The participation of five
SIDS, namely Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Singapore and Tonga, is particularly
Legal and implementation gaps remain, and I want to mention 3 of particular
• First, we have still not achieved the goal of universal participation in
UNCLOS, even though we have 168 members, including nearly all of the
major maritime powers. At another event this week, I mentioned my
particular concern that 12 of the 32 LLDCs are not yet party to the
Convention and therefore missing out on the provisions in Part XI
PD7: Implementing international law (Panelist) Friday 9 June, 10:00-13:00
specifically intended for their benefit. I urge these States to join the
• Second, also with respect to universality, there are still 18 States that have
not ratified the Part XI Agreement even though they are parties to UNCLOS.
• Third, in order to accurately delineate the boundary of the Area, States need
to establish the limits of national jurisdiction through the procedure outlined
in UNCLOS. Relatively few States have so far established the outer limits of
their continental shelves. And only 7 States Parties have fulfilled their
obligation under Article 84(2) to deposit charts or list of geographical
coordinates with the Secretary-General of the Authority showing the outer
limit lines of the continental shelf (Australia, France, Ireland, Mexico, Niue,
Pakistan and Philippines).
The next major implementation step for ISA is to adopt a Mining Code that will
allow for commercial exploitation of minerals in the Area. Again, this is in line
with the evolutionary approach laid down in the 1994 Agreement, and reflects
the fact that deep seabed mining is increasingly seen as an integral part of the
overall vision for a sustainable world.
The development of a commercially viable Mining Code, with due provision for
environmental protection in line with a precautionary approach, is critically
important to the future of ISA and to the credibility of the deep sea mining regime
established by Part XI. Indeed, the Code will constitute a key step in contributing
to fulfill the object and purpose of UNCLOS; that is to promote the economic and
social advancement of all peoples of the world.
PD7: Implementing international law (Panelist) Friday 9 June, 10:00-13:00
I now turn to consider the challenges and urgent needs of developing countries
and ways in which these may be addressed.
For many developing States, there are real challenges with respect to
participation in the work of ISA, both as a result of financial constraints as well as
lack of technical and research capacity. These need to be addressed so that
developing States can participate effectively in making the decisions that will
affect their future interests.
The positive impact of addressing these challenges was demonstrated by the EUDSM
project of the Pacific Community which succeeded in raising awareness and
building capacity amongst P-SIDS. We now count four P-SIDS amongst our
contractors. We hope to be able to continue this work through the voluntary
commitment we have registered in collaboration with UNDESA aimed at building
capacity in P-SIDS to develop their deep seabed mining industries to support the
blue economy.
One region lags far behind and that is Africa, which is the only regional group that
has not so far sponsored a plan of work for exploration. That is why I was
particularly pleased to visit Uganda recently and to register a voluntary
commitment for this Conference, in partnership with the African Minerals
Development Centre of UNECA, to hold a coordinated series of workshops in
Africa to raise awareness about the opportunities for African States, including the
landlocked States, in the development of marine minerals.
Challenges in relation to the development of scientific and technical capacity are
more persistent, mainly because of the sophisticated, costly and highly specialized
nature of deep sea science.
PD7: Implementing international law (Panelist) Friday 9 June, 10:00-13:00
Nevertheless, we have made significant progress by partnering with contractors
to develop their mandatory training programmes as required by UNCLOS. So far,
these programmes, together with the ISA Endowment Fund for MSR, have
supported training for more than 160 scientific and technical personnel from 45
developing countries.
ISA has also made solid progress in promoting coordinated MSR in the Area, in
partnership with many leading scientific institutions around the world, including
establishing marine environmental databases and specialized Atlases of deep sea
species using standardized taxonomic identification protocols, including DNA
Much more needs to be done, however, particularly to ensure that the benefits
of, and knowledge from, MSR in the Area, flows to the developing countries that
lack the physical, financial and human resources to carry out this extremely costly
I urge all those present to consider the benefits of well-organized, focused and
coordinated global partnerships to improve deep sea scientific research and
sharing of the benefits of such research with developing countries. Partnerships
may be organized at global level, ocean-basin level or regionally. I welcome any
interest in such partnerships.
With these few remarks and suggestions, I look forward to the dialogue.