The Legal and Technical Commission (LTC) is an organ of the Council of ISA and currently consists of 30 members who are elected by the Council for a period of 5 years (starting from 1 January 2017) from among the candidates nominated by the member States.
Election of the Commission
Members of the LTC are elected by the Council from among the candidates nominated by the State Parties. They shall have appropriate qualifications such as those relevant to the exploration for, exploitation and processing of mineral resources, oceanography, protection of marine environment, or economic or legal matters relating to ocean mining and related fields of expertise.
States Parties shall nominate candidates of the highest standards of competence and integrity with qualifications in relevant fields so as to ensure the effective exercise of the functions of the Commission.
The Council shall endeavour to ensure that the membership of the LTC reflects all appropriate qualifications. In the election of members of the LTC, due account shall be taken of the need for equitable geographical distribution and the representation of special interests.
Members of the Commission shall hold office for a term of five years. They shall be eligible for re-election for a further term.
In the event of death, incapacity or resignation of a member of the LTC prior to the expiration of the term of office, the Council shall elect for the remainder of the term, a member from the same geographical region or area of interest.
Functions of the LTC
The LTC is entrusted with various functions relating to activities in the Area including, inter alia, the review of applications for plans of work, supervision of exploration or mining activities (including review of annual reports submitted by contractors), development of environmental management plans, assessment of the environmental implications of activities in the Area, formulate and keep under review the rules, regulations and procedures in relation to activities in the Area, and make recommendations to the Council on all matters relating to exploration and exploitation of non-living marine resources (such as polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts).
Meetings of the LTC
Meetings of the LTC usually precede the annual sessions of ISA and tables its report to the Council during the session. In 2013, the LTC commenced holding two sessions per year with its first two-week session held in February/March and its second session in the week immediately prior to ISA's annual sessions in July.
Major achievements of LTC
Since its inception, LTC has developed the following Regulations, which have been adopted by the Council and approved by the Assembly:
- Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area (see ISBA/19/A/9 and ISBA/19/C/17);
- Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides (see ISBA/16/A/12/Rev.1); and
- Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration of Cobalt-Rich Ferromanganese Crusts in the Area (see ISBA/18/A/11).
The LTC has also issued the following Recommendations:
- Recommendations relating to assessment of the possible environmental impacts arising from exploration for marine minerals in the Area (see the revised version ISBA/25/LTC/6/Rev.1);
- Recommendations relating to training programmes under plans of work for exploration (see ISBA/19/LTC/14);
- Recommendations relating to the reporting of actual and direct exploration expenditure (see ISBA/21/LTC/11);
- Recommendations relating to the content, format and structure of annual reports (see ISBA/21/LTC/15); and
Recommendations relating to the relinquishment of areas under the exploration contracts for polymetallic sulphides or cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts (see ISBA/25/LTC/8).
Development of Draft Exploitation Regulations as well as Standards and Guidelines for the activities in the Area
In March 2019, the LTC has also submitted the Draft regulations on exploration of mineral resources in the Area (see ISBA/25/C/WP.1) to the Council for its consideration. The LTC is currently developing standards/guidelines for the exploitation activities in the area, as a priority matter.
Current membership of the LTC
During the 22nd session of ISA held in July 2016, a total of 30 candidates were elected members of the LTC for the period 2017 to 2021. The current membership of the LTC is as follows: