Council Members of the International Seabed Authority met in Kingston, Jamaica from the 17 – 21 February, 2020.
The Fijian Government delegation was led by the Acting Permanent Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Mr. Craig Strong who was supported by Dr Raijeli Taga, the Deputy Secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources and Mr. Gene Bai, the First Secretary for the Permanent Mission of Fiji to the United Nations.
The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The Authority is the organization through which State Parties to the Convention shall, in accordance with the regime for the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area) established in Part XI and the Agreement organize and control activities in the Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.
The 26th Session Council deliberations centered on the composition and size of the Authority’s Legal and Technical Commission (LTC), an issue that has been controversial in the past. Fiji, through Dr Russel Howarth has formally chaired the LTC.
Discussions were also held on developing a mechanism for the furtherance of work on the “draft regulations on the exploitation of mineral resources in the area”.
A key achievement for the Council during this session was to develop and agree to working methods to facilitate this work.
This included the establishment of three working groups and their operating modalities. The three working groups being:- (1) The working Group on the protection and preservation of marine environment (2) The working group on the inspection compliance and enforcement and (3) The working group on institutional matters. The council agreed that each working group would have a facilitator which would be nominated by the Regional Groups.
Fiji’s Dr Raijeli Taga is potentially being positioned by the Asia Pacific Group as facilitator for the Working Group on the protection and preservation of marine environment. Acting Permanent Secretary Craig Strong said that from the perspective of continuity it would be extremely gratifying to have Fiji through Dr Raijeli Taga involved in this important piece of work.
Fiji has been a member since the inception of the Authority and has a very proud association with the Authority with distinguished Fijian diplomat Satya Nadan having served as the first Secretary General of the Authority.
Furthermore, through Dr Russel Howarth Fiji has held the Chair of the Legal and Technical Committee of the Authority.