Debate on the Annual Report of the Secretary-General
20th Session of the International Seabed Authority
24 July 2014, Kingston, Jamaica
Thank you, Mr President.
On behalf of my delegation, let me congratulate you on your election. We are confident that under your leadership and wisdom, we will have a successful and productive meeting.
Through you, my delegation would like to thank the Secretary-General, Mr Nii Allotey Odunton, for his comprehensive and concise report.
The Philippines attaches great importance to the work of the Authority in managing mineral-related activities in the international seabed, the common heritage of mankind.
Through the years, the Authority has performed considerable work, culminating in the successive adoptions of the entire regulations on prospecting and exploration of polymetallic nodules, polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts. As we now move to the phase of exploitation beginning next year, we look forward to the adoption of codes for the exploitation of these minerals.
Like the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, the Authority has seen a substantial increase in its workload in recent years. As the report indicates, by the second half of this year, the Authority would be managing a total of 19 exploration contracts.
To make the Authority more efficient, the working procedures of its Legal and Technical Commission should be further streamlined. We agree that, using a secure members-only website, the LTC should be able to review the annual reports of the contractors early in the year. This would allow the members to work remotely, and give them more time in examining the applications for plans of work for exploration.
It will be recalled that, last year, the LTC completed examination of only two out of six applications. Fortunately, in the past year, the LTC has fully examined the pending applications, including that of Ocean Mineral Singapore Pte Ltd., which is important for our region.
Mr President, to fully benefit from the bounties of the deep seabed as the common heritage of mankind, to be shared equitably by all nations, developing countries need to take a more proactive role in the management of the Area, through and under the auspices of the Authority.
Through training, capacity building and the transfer of technology, developing countries including the Philippines are becoming more sensitive to the appropriate policy and legal approaches to deep seabed mining. The challenges are enormous, ranging from the goals of national development, regional and international cooperation, marine environmental protection, sustainable development, and the just and more equitable distribution of wealth.
However, as our predecessors have envisioned over 30 years ago as they concluded the Convention in Montego Bay, the opportunities are well worth all the trouble.
Consistent with Articles 143 and 144 of the Convention, the Philippines strongly supports the Authority’s work on capacity-building and marine scientific research. We encourage the contractors to further promote more active participation by developing countries in the sharing of deep seabed mineral resources, by offering more training fellowships than what their contractual obligations provide.
Mr President, the Philippines also supports the Authority’s duty to help protect and conserve marine biological diversity associated with activities in the Area, including through the Management Plan for the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, and the revision of the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration of Polymetallic Nodules in the Area, in order to make them consistent with the environmental provisions of the Polymetallic Sulphides Regulations.
We commend the efforts of the Authority to reach out to Member States and the general public, through the establishment of a library, the numerous publications, the website and other outreach programmes. I, myself, benefitted from a session of the sensitization seminar conducted by the Authority at UN Headquarters last April.
Finally, aware of the very important work that the Authority is doing to address the many critical issues that continue to emerge, the Philippines joins many members of the Authority in making more substantive contributions, towards the hope of taking a more active role in the work of the Authority from hereon.
Thank you, Mr President.