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Responsibilities and Obligations of States with Respect to Activities in the Area

Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
2011 I.T.L.D.S Reports 10


Facts

Any natural resources located in the international seabed (Area) constitute the property of all nations and are governed by the International Seabed Authority (Authority) (plaintiff). If a private company wishes to mine or explore the Area, the company must first be sponsored by a nation. The Authority implemented regulations (Regulations) requiring all sponsoring nations to apply the precautionary approach to ensure that the environment would be protected from any harm resulting from mining or exploration activities in the Area. The Regulations also incorporated a standard clause to be included in mining and exploration contracts, mandating a private contractor to employ reasonable and appropriate protective measures that would reduce and prevent environmental harm while the contractor carried out its activities. In 2008, the Republic of Nauru and the Kingdom of Tonga sponsored private companies to explore the Area. Upon Nauru’s request, the Authority asked the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to issue an advisory opinion clarifying sponsoring nations’ obligations under the Regulations.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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