As calls to halt development of seabed mining are growing, the International Seabed Authority is at an inflection point. This Issue Brief aims to help States and stakeholders understand the legal framework and the current state of play, with a particular focus on the two-year rule requiring adoption of exploitation regulations by July 2023. It outlines possible pathways to averting deadlock and instituting a precautionary pause on the development of mining activities.

Key Messages

  • The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is at an inflection point, with slow progress on the elaboration of mining regulations, a deadline looming, and lack of consensus regarding interpretation of key legal provisions and processes.
  • The governance framework is not ready to regulate seabed mining in line with the mandate and objectives of the ISA and other relevant international agreements.
  • Facing complexities and contradictions, States must invest in the process, carefully consider their positions, and strive to reach consensus on a way forward.
  • Given the urgent calls from scientists and a growing coalition of States and stakeholders, the Members of the ISA Assembly could adopt a general policy that provides guidance and implements a precautionary pause. 
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