Nauru Proposal Gets Seabed Council Attention

The Council of the International Seabed Authority yesterday heard divergent views on a proposal by Nauru for an advisory opinion from the Seabed Disputes Chambers of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The Government of Nauru had sponsored an entity; Nauru Ocean Resources  Inc., for a plan of work in prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Area. 

In a communication to the Authority (ISBA/16/C/6), it sought an advisory opinion on the interpretations of the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the Convention (General Assembly resolution 48/263) pertaining to the responsibility and the liability of sponsoring states.

Speaking in Council, the Nauru representative said that while its sponsorship agreement with Nauru Ocean Resources Inc., conferred numerous powers upon the State, it believed the Seabed Disputes Chamber might be able to clarify whether there were any additional measures it could take, and, if there were such measures, additional safeguards could then be incorporated into the sponsorship agreement.

He continued that an advisory opintion from the Seabed Disputes Chamber would provide greater certainty to sponsoring States or those who intended to do so and would demonstrate to the private sector investors that there was a procedure to refer matters to a functioning tribunal that could adjudicate disputes regarding activities in the Area. He said the advisory opinion could also help develop standards that must be observed in the Area leading to the promotion of best practices and consequently the protection of the environment.