US accession to UNCLOS would place mining interests directly under regulatory regime of the Authority
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If the United States accedes to UNCLOS, American companies will be required to adhere to all the Authority’s rules, regulations, and dictates. In matters concerning deep seabed mining, UNCLOS leaves no doubt where the power lies. The convention states that all activities in the seabed “shall be organized, carried out and controlled by the Authority on behalf of mankind as a whole” and that the Authority “shall have the right to take at any time any measures...to ensure compliance with its provisions and the exercise of the functions of control and regu- lation assigned to it thereunder or under any contract.”35
The Authority has exercised these general grants of power in a number of specific ways, notably by creating the “mining Code,” a “comprehensive set of rules, regulations and pro- cedures issued by the International Seabed Authority to regulate prospecting, exploration and exploitation of marine minerals in the international seabed Area.”36
Among the regulations thus far enacted by the Authority are the procedures regarding exploration for polymetallic nodules.37 These regulations, when read in conjunction with the Authority’s standard clauses for exploration contracts38 and the Legal and Technical Commission’s environmental regulations,39 create a regulatory regime without precedent in international law. If the United States accedes to UNCLOS, U.S. seabed mining companies will be subject to that regime.
The UNCLOS treaty was originally concieved as a way to redistribute wealth on a global scale and the international regulatory structure that remains will likely inhibit development, depress productivity, increase costs, and discourage innovation.