On 6 May 2010, the Council of the International Seabed Authority adopted decision ISBA/16/C/13, in which, in accordance with article 191 of the Convention, it requested the Seabed Disputes Chamber of the Tribunal to render an advisory opinion on the following questions:
- What are the legal responsibilities and obligations of States parties to the Convention with respect to the sponsorship of activities in the Area in accordance with the Convention, in particular part XI, and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982?
- What is the extent of liability of a State party for any failure to comply with the provisions of the Convention, in particular part XI, and the 1994 Agreement, by an entity whom it has sponsored under article 153, paragraph 2(b), of the Convention?
- What are the necessary and appropriate measures that a sponsoring State must take in order to fulfil its responsibility under the Convention, in particular article 139 and annex III, and the 1994 Agreement?
The request for an advisory opinion was transmitted by a letter dated 11 May 2010 from the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority addressed to the President of the Seabed Disputes Chamber. The request was filed with the Registry on 14 May 2010 and entered in the list of cases of the Tribunal as Case No. 17.
Subsequently, in accordance with article 131 of the Rules, the Authority submitted a dossier to the Chamber containing documents, decisions and other material of the Authority as well as international instruments and other material likely to throw light on the three legal questions on which the advisory opinion of the Seabed Disputes Chamber was sought.
On 18 May 2010, the President of the Seabed Disputes Chamber adopted an Order fixing 9 August 2010 as the time limit for the presentation of written statements, and 14 September 2010 as the date for the opening of the oral proceedings. The time limit for the submission of written statements was extended to 19 August 2010, by a further Order of the President of the Chamber dated 28 July 2010.
Within this time limit, 12 States parties to the Convention (Australia, Chile, China, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Nauru, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Romania, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom) filed written statements. Within the same time limit, written statements were also submitted by the International Seabed Authority, the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. One further organization (the United Nations Environment Programme) filed a statement after the time limit. In addition, a joint statement by two international non-governmental organizations (the Stichting Greenpeace Council (Greenpeace International) and the World Wide Fund for Nature) was submitted to the Chamber, together with a petition to intervene in the proceedings as amicus curiae. Pursuant to a decision of the Chamber, the joint statement was not considered as part of the documentation in the case.
Prior to the opening of the hearing, the Chamber met for initial deliberations on 10, 13 and 14 September 2010.
During the hearing held on 14, 15 and 16 September 2010, nine States parties (Argentina, Chile, Fiji, Germany, Mexico, Nauru, the Netherlands, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom), the International Seabed Authority, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources presented oral statements to the Seabed Disputes Chamber.
The Seabed Disputes Chamber delivered its advisory opinion on 1 February 2011.
Institution of Proceedings
- Request for Advisory Opinion
- Dossier submitted on behalf of the Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority pursuant to Article 131 of the Rules of the Tribunal
- Written Statement of the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization
- Written Statement of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Written Statement of the Republic of Nauru
- Written Statement of the Republic of Korea
- Written Statement of Romania
- Written Statement of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
- Written Statement of the Russian Federation
- Written Statement of the United Mexican States
- Written Statement of the International Union for Conservation of Nature
- Written Statement of the Federal Republic of Germany
- Written Statement of the People's Republic of China
- Written Statement of Australia
- Written Statement of the Republic of Chile
- Written Statement of the Republic of the Philippines
- Written Statement of the International Seabed Authority
Other Statements and Further Information
Statement received after the expiry of the time-limit fixed by Order 2010/4 of 28 July 2010
Statement received from a non-governmental organization (not part of the case file)
- Statement of Stichting Greenpeace Council (Greenpeace International) and the World Wide Fund for Nature
Further information submitted by the International Seabed Authority
- Note from the Legal Counsel dated 26 August 2010 on the Likely Impact of Exploration and Mining Activities for Nodules on the Marine Environment
- ITLOS/PV.10/1/Rev.2 – 14 September 2010 p.m.
- ITLOS/PV.10/2/Rev.2 – 15 September 2010 a.m.
- ITLOS/PV.10/3/Rev.2 – 16 September 2010 a.m.
- ITLOS/PV.10/4 /Rev.2 – 16 September 2010 p.m.
- Minutes of public hearings (original language) in accordance with article 86 of the Rules of the Tribunal
- Letter of the Legal Counsel dated 17 September 2010
- Letter of the Legal Counsel dated 15 November 2010 on the Different Phases involved in Exploration and Exploitation of Polymetallic Nodules and Polymetallic Sulphides in the Area
- ITLOS/Press 147: The Seabed Disputes Chamber of the Tribunal recieves a request for an Advisory Opinion
- ITLOS/Press 148: Time-limits set for the submission of written statements
- ITLOS/Press 150: Time-limits extended for the sumbission of written statements
- ITLOS/Press 151: Filing of written statements
- ITLOS/Press 152: Public hearing to be held from 14 September 2010
- ITLOS/Press 160: Seabed Disputes Chamber to deliver its Advisory Opinon on Tuesday, 1 February 2011 at 10:45 a.m.
- ITLOS/Press 161: Seabed Disputes Chamber renders unanimous advisory opinion in case no. 17