Revised U.S. Deep Seabed Mining Policy Reflects UNCLOS and Other International Environmental Law Obligations
LexisNexis Emerging Issues Analysis 6893 (2013)
46 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2013
Date Written: February 13, 2013
This article questions the extent to which U.S. continental shelf seabed mining policy, as reflected in the U.S. administration’s recently issued five-year OCS development plan and accompanying agency regulations, is influenced by international environmental law, especially the deep seabed mining and environmental provisions (Parts XI-XII) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (‘UNCLOS’) to which the U.S. has not yet acceded. It seeks answers in the first advisory opinion issued by UNCLOS’ International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (‘ITLOS’) which sets forth the legal responsibilities and obligations of UNCLOS State Parties that sponsor deep seabed mining activities in international waters. The opinion is significant, for among other reasons, its review and incorporation of evolving international environmental legal norms not expressly included within original or amended treaty text, such as Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development (i.e., the precautionary approach) and its consequent imposition of new legal duties on treaty Parties.
Keywords: UNCLOS, ITLOS, advisory opinion, states sponsoring deep seabed mining, legal obligations, precautionary approach, outer-continental shelf, US Department of Interior regulations, US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regulations, OCSLA, DSHMRA, customary international law, sovereignty
JEL Classification: F21, F23, F42, H4, H56, J28, K23, K32, K33, L51, L95, N40, N70, O33, O38, P16, Q4, Q42, Q43, Q48
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation