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The International Seabed Authority in collaboration with the China Institute for Marine Affairs of the State Oceanic Administration of China (CIMA) organised an International Workshop on Further Consideration of the Implementation of Article 82 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, held in Beijing, China from 26-30 November 2012.
The Beijing Workshop was attended by some 40 legal and scientific experts, including current members of the LTC and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS)，senior experts from offshore oil and gas industry, law firms, geosciences and natural resources research institutes, University law and marine science professors, Foreign Ministry legal advisors and diplomats, former and current senior officials of the United Nations Division of Ocean Law and Policy (DOALOS) and the Authority. Participants were from the following member States of the Authority: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Fiji, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Japan, Mozambique, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Slovenia, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Kingdom.
The workshop was aimed at producing draft proposals for consideration by OCS States and by the Authority’s LTC and included a number of background papers and informal working papers prepared and presented by experts and by a series of case studies of domestic licensing regimes and views on the implementation of Article 82 in selected OCS States. It’s focus, however, was on two working groups tasked with producing concrete proposals and recommendations.
As part of the overall legal regime for the continental shelf established under the Convention, Article 82 is an important component of the concept of the common heritage of mankind. Whilst the intent behind Article 82 is clear, its language leaves a number of important practical issues unresolved. Much further work remains to be done if the provisions are to be applied uniformly and consistently in State practice. In order to avoid potential future disputes over the interpretation and application of Article 82, it is important that these issues are resolved as soon as possible. Clear and unambiguous guidance as to how Article 82 will be implemented in future will also help to provide greater certainty to the offshore industry and enable it to promote more activity on the OCS.
The Authority’s work on resolution of the issues associated with the implementation of Article 82 commenced with a seminar convened by the Authority in conjunction with the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London from 11 to 13 February 2009 (the Chatham House seminar). The Chatham House seminar was convened to identify and discuss issues associated with the implementation of Article 82 by a group of invited experts. It was attended by a broad selection of leading academic and practitioner experts in the international law of the sea, marine geology and oceanography, as well as the offshore oil and gas industry from Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America. As a result of this seminar, in 2009 and 2010, the Authority published two technical studies dealing with the legal and policy issues associated with the implementation of article 82 (Technical Study No. 4) and the technical and resource issues associated with the OCS (Technical Study No. 5) respectively.
Nii A Odunton, Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority
Mr. Jia Guide, Deputy Director-General, Department of Treaty and Law, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the People’s Republic of China
Prof. Haiwen Zhang, Deputy Director, China Institute for Marine Affairs (CIMA)
Michael Lodge, Deputy to the Secretary-General and Legal Counsel, International Seabed Authority
The working group discussions at the workshop resulted in each group producing a small report. The drafts of these reports are linked below.