An informal, non-UNCLOS, multilateral organization would be sufficient to protect U.S. interests in mining deep seabed
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Still, treaty supporters point out, the LOST, having gained more than the necessary 60 ratifications from UN member nations, will go into effect in November 1994 irrespective of Washington's ratification decision. However, nations cannot be held to surrender their rights because other states have ratified a treaty. Put bluntly, it matters little whether or not Djibouti, Fiji, or Zambia approves of American mining consortia operating in the Pacific. An ISA without any industrialized states as members would be about as effective as the "international regime" that is supposed to be established under the UN Moon Treaty, which--I am not making this up, to quote humorist Dave Barry--formally took effect 10 years ago in July.13
A decentralized and relatively informal system, perhaps with a small international office, that provided for mutual recognition of mine sites and arbitration of conflicts would offer adequate security of tenure for mining companies. In fact, the United States and the Europeans implemented that type of strategy when they rejected the LOST.14 Other nations, particularly those like China, India, and South Korea, which have indicated an interest in seabed mining, could be invited to join such a system as well. That approach would operate with minimal bureaucracy and cost and would be confined to essentials--most important, developing a stable investment regime.
According to U.S. foreign relations law, the United States may engage in deep seabed mining activities even if it does not accede to UNCLOS, provided that such activities are conducted without claiming sovereignty over any part of the deep seabed and as long as the mining activities are conducted with due regard to the rights of other nations to engage in mining.This position is also reflected in the Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act of 1980.