1994 Agreement does not give U.S. a true veto in the International Seabed Authority
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The 1994 Agreement specifies eligibility for the Council with formulas that would assure the United States a permanent seat—as “the state having the largest GNP”—if it were to ratify UNCLOS. It also assures permanent seats for Russia—as the largest state in “Eastern Europe”—and China and India—under a set-aside for “states with large populations.” There will, in any case, always be a majority of developing countries on the Council, given various other eligibility formulas. For instance, only four of the 36 seats are reserved for “states which have made the largest investments in [deep sea mining] activities.”22
Contrary to some advocates’ claims, the 1994 supplementary agreement does not give the U.S. a veto over actions of the Authority. Under UNCLOS, the Council is only required to act by “consensus”—so that one negative vote would constitute a veto—when it endorses “rules, regulations and procedures [which] relate to prospecting, exploration and exploitation in the Area,” that is, the deep seabed.23 However, the 1994 agreement specifies that the Council may make decisions by two-thirds vote on matters of “substance” and by mere majority on matters of “procedure”24 Thus, a mere majority may decide, as a matter of “procedure,” when a seemingly “substantive” decision is really only procedural, empowering the deciding majority to decide on further questions by a simple majority vote.