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THE INTERNATIONAL SEABED AUTHORITY'S REGULATIONS ON PROSPECTING AND EXPLORATION FOR POLYMETALLIC NODULES IN THE AREA
by Michael W. Lodge
In July 2000, after three years of complex and often controversial negotiations, the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority approved a set of Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area, the first set of regulations to be issued by the Authority since its conception as the custodian of the ‘common heritage of mankind' more than 30 years ago. The Regulations approved in June 2000 completed the legislative regime for the international seabed (‘the Area') set out in Part XI and Annex III of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI and paved the way for the issue by the Authority in 2001 of the first 15-year contracts for exploration for polymetallic nodules in the Area.
This article aims to provide a brief analysis of the content of the Regulations and an assessment of their significance for the future development of the resources of the Area. Section I describes the legal regime for the Area under the 1982 Convention and the Agreement. Section II describes the process of negotiation of the Regulations and Section III highlights some of the salient features of the Regulations and analyses how they might be applied in practice. Section IV offers some preliminary conclusions.
Michael W. Lodge
Office of Legal Affairs
International Seabed Authority
18 December 2001
(added 10 January 2002)
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