Report finds regional deep sea mining laws lacking
An independent assessment of a proposed framework for sea bed mining has found the legislation lacks indigenous and environmental safeguards.
An independent assessment of a proposed framework for sea bed mining has found its the legislation lacks indigenous and environmental safeguards.
The Pacific Community's regional legislative and regulatory framework for deep sea minerals exploration and exploitation is supposed to be the standard for pacific countries to aspire to when drafting their own legislation in this new area.
But Blue Ocean Law attorney Julian Augon told Koroi Hawkins the document only pays lip service to the protection of indigenous peoples and the environment.
JULIAN AUGON: We thoroughly reviewed the SPC EU framework and in our findings we found that there were some conspicuous omissions more or less related to international human and indigenous rights legal norms and international environmental legal norms. Including on the first hand free prior and informed consent and on the second hand the precautionary principle as well as the principle to avoid trans-boundary harm.
KOROI HAWKINS: These areas that haven't been included in the document why are they important and what is the danger of having countries in the region enact this legislation without them included?
JA: Well first and foremost the most important part of the framework is that it's self-consciously a standard setting document, it actually purports to be a model so to speak, legislative and regulatory framework that individual countries are then encouraged to take and tailor to the specific circumstances but because it is a normative or standard setting document we believe that it is better at its earlier stage and before actually prospecting and actually mining starts to actually implement these best practices early on and it is crucial I mean for instance with the rights of indigenous peoples to free prior and informed consent. It is really key that is a quite glaring omission because under international law indigenous peoples have their right to meaningful consultation for example at every stage of the process not just as an after thought much further down the road we are talking years down the road now. Because this project with the EU began in 2011 and it is already 2016 and their still has been insufficient protections and mechanisms for actually fulfilling the international law mandate of consultation and seeking, having good faith consultations towards obtaining indigenous peoples consent. I think the last thing I will say is that it is not as if the SPC, I would be remiss to say the SPC report doesn't mention for example the precautionary approach it just doesn't really actually operationalise the principle. So there is a lot of lip service paid throughout the text so you see things like precautionary approach peppered throughout the document but in reality even if you look at the annexes for example with the model template bills to the extent that precautionary approach is actually heeded its more in a preambulary introductory sort of soft law aspirational kind of way. And that is really, really undermines undercuts the foundational text. The last thing basically is the precautionary principle and especially the principle to address trans-boundary harm is well settled under international law specifically international law in relation to the sea. So it is quite egregious to not really incorporate and make those provisions especially those related to trans-boundary harm really, really fleshed out concrete and operational.
Julian Augon says Blue Ocean Law in collaboration with the Pacific Network on Globalisation is seeking engagement with the Pacific Community on addressing the findings in the report.
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