Wednesday, 30 July 2014


By Linda Straker

Grenada is one of six Caribbean countries that are in arrears with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), an autonomous international organisation which administers mineral resources in the seabed.

The countries are among a list of 43 members of the ISA that are in arrears of two years or more with dues, effective April 2014. They are Barbados, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The annual report of the Secretary-General, Nii Allotey Odunton, was the focus of a two-day debate in the Assembly. The report did not give the dollar amount of that which is owed, but said that up to April 30, 2014, only 29.7 per cent of the Authority’s 166 members had paid. The money collected represents 68.7 per cent of the value of the member contributions to the 2014 budget.

The approved budget for the 2013/2014 biennium stood at just over US$14.3 million.

“Notices are sent on a regular basis to member states, reminding them of the arrears,” the document said.

“The administrative expenses of the Authority shall be met by assessed contributions of its members until the Authority has sufficient funds from other sources to meet those expenses,” it explained.

The scale of those assessments shall be based on the scale used for the regular budget of the United Nations, adjusted for differences in membership, according to the report. In accordance with article 184 of the Convention and rule 80 of the rules of procedure of the Assembly, members in arrears for two years or more shall not have voting privileges.

Meanwhile, as the inter-governmental body wound up its session last week Thursday, a day earlier than originally scheduled, its Council signalled it wanted formulation of procedures and criteria for applications for extension of exploration contracts as well as exploitation regulations to be given top priority.

The Council, by a decision adopted on July 23, requested the Authority’s expert body, the Legal and Technical Commission, to, “as a matter of urgency and as its priority”, formulate the draft texts and submit them to the Council at its 2015 session. The draft instruments would be applied in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner and made available in advance of the Council’s next session in 2015. The Commission is scheduled to meet in Kingston in February 2015.

The Authority’s Assembly, at its final meeting on Thursday, July 24, decided to convene the 21st session of the Authority from July 13 to 24, 2015 in Kingston.

During debate on the proposals in the Council, many delegations expressed support for formulation of the draft texts. A proposal by the Netherlands for the incorporation of environmental management planning in the regulatory framework for mineral exploitation in the Area was welcomed by delegations.

A communiqué issued at the conclusion of the meeting said that the exploration contracts awarded to the pioneer investors in 2001 and 2002 will come to an end in 2016 and 2017. Some of the contractors involved are likely to proceed to exploitation while others might apply for extension of their contracts. There is now a significant increase in the level of interest in deep seabed mining.

The report, submitted under article 166 paragraph 4 of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, provided information on the work of the Authority from July 2013 to June 2014.

Presenting the report to the Assembly on July 23, Mr. Odunton highlighted the challenge of managing the increasing workload of the Authority as it moved towards elaborating exploitation regulations and the need for standardised data on the living resources of the seabed Area. The report observed that the Authority had achieved significant milestones since 2000.

It is not clear who represented Grenada at the Assembly and whether or not the outstanding fees were settled by the time of writing this report. E-mails and calls to a number of relevant persons went unanswered or not acknowledged.


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