Natural Resources

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Deep seabed mining: A general policy at the International Seabed Authority?

Comprising 168 member States, the International Seabed Authority (ISA) is responsible for all seabed mineral exploration and future exploitation activities on the international seabed (‘the Area’). Negotiations on the rules, regulations and procedures for exploitation activities are currently ongoing at the ISA. Before any exploitation activities can commence, UNCLOS requires its member States to first develop necessary rules, regulations and procedures to govern their conduct. The recent invocation of the ‘two-year rule’ provision by Nauru has imposed some pressure on the ISA, resulting in the legal possibility that exploitation activities could soon commence even in the absence of regulations. As a result, more and more States are voicing their concerns about exploitation activities in the Area commencing in the near future. Background to the proposal to discuss a general policy at the ISA In mid-2023, a group of five countries (Chile, Costa Rica, France, Palau and Vanuatu) proposed an agenda item for debate at the…

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Extending human rights accountability for corporate actors in the LIDHO v Cote d’Ivoire case of the African Court

In September 2023 the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACtHPR or African Court) handed down its first judgement for harm caused, including to the environment, due to the dumping of toxic waste. This commentary focuses on how this judgement expands the African jurisprudence on the question of corporate accountability for infringement of human rights.

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Fukushima Nuclear Waste Water Disputes Continued: International Law in Japanese Court?

On 24th August 2023, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) started releasing the ALPS-treated waste water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean over a period of 30 years. As discussed on this blog before, here and here, the decision led to strong international responses from neighbouring States, such as China and South…

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A Contentious Toll

Rivers have caused a decent share of international disputes in Latin America: Pulp Mills, Silala (analysed here), and the series of disputes between Costa Rica and Nicaragua involving the San Juan River. And that’s just the last 15 years. Argentina’s…

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The Legal Fight Over Deep-Sea Resources Enters a New and Uncertain Phase

The past month was a flashpoint in the future of deep-sea exploitation – a future inexorably linked to the transition to a decarbonized economy. Deep-sea exploitation is governed by the International Seabed Authority (the ISA), an intergovernmental organization established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ISA’s authority covers a large…

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