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2005-09-23 18:39:00
Embassy Kingston
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 07 KINGSTON 002220 




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 145929

Summary -

1. (U) The Eleventh Session of the International Seabed
Authority (ISBA) took place in Kingston, Jamaica from 15-26
August, 2005. The majority of the meeting's time was spent
on the first detailed review of proposed regulations on
prospecting and exploration for polymetallic sulphides and
cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts in the Area. Even though
only an observer, the U.S. actively made arguments for
balance between incentives to develop the resources of the
Area and environmental concerns. A revised set of
regulations will undergo a second round of scrutiny during
next year's meeting.

2. (U) An issue of potentially more immediate concern to
the U.S. is whether individual members of the ISBA Finance
Committee can serve more than two terms. Unfortunately,
during the discussion of the issue, Australia made the
suggestion that the meeting of States Party to the Law of the
Sea (SPLOS) be asked to resolve the question. Some other
states, notably Russia, agreed with the proposal.
Ultimately, with the U.S. and others taking the opposite
view, there was no consensus on how to move forward. How the
issue will be resolved is not clear, but Finance Committee
elections will need to take place during next year's ISBA

3. (U) Other issues that arose included resolution of
Japan's suggestion to use ISBA program funds to support
travel of developing country experts to ISBA meetings. The
Japanese representative on the FC, apparently after
considerable pressure from Tokyo, agreed to the proposition
that the trust fund remain voluntary, and that program funds
not be used for that purpose. However, during the course of
the meeting, ISBA Secretary-General (SYG) Nandan made the
separate suggestion that a different trust fund be
established to support developing country scientist
participation in international research activities. Funding
for the proposed trust fund would come from fees
associated with pioneer investor funds. The FC will take up
this suggestion next year. Korea pushed on the margins to
determine criteria for membership in the ISBA Council's B
Chamber - the investor chamber - in order to guarantee its
own inclusion. The U.S. was asked to continue a coordinating
role on this issue. Germany's application to explore for
manganese nodules was accepted. The UK agreed to continue
coordinating meetings of the group of 10 (G-10) -- Belgium,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia,
UK, U.S. Although not an issue during this meeting, an
acceptable candidate to succeed SYG Nandan is an issue that
the U.S. will want to address in the near future.
End Summary.


Proposed Regulations


4. (U) The majority of the Eleventh Session of the
International Seabed Authority (ISBA) that took place in
Kingston, Jamaica from 15-26 August 2005, was taken up by the
first detailed review of proposed regulations on prospecting
and exploration for polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich
ferromanganese crusts in the Area. Note: Roughly speaking,
under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the
"Area" is defined as the area beyond national jurisdictions.
End Note. Even though only an observer to the meeting, the
U.S. actively made arguments for balance between incentives
to develop the resources of the Area and environmental
concerns. A revised set of regulations will undergo a second
round of scrutiny during next year's meeting.

5. (SBU) Comment: During the discussions, some of the most
consistent voices in favor of environmental protections -
Brazil, Argentina, Australia - also happened to be land-based
producers of metals. When we asked representatives of
metal-consuming countries how much interest the proposed
regulations were generating among their private sectors, each
told us that there was virtually no interest. In fact, no
delegation was aware of any deep seabed mining being planned
for the foreseeable future. We believe this dynamic lends
itself to a situation where land-based producers will be
inclined to favor measures that have the impact of raising
the bar on future deep seabed-based production, while future
consumers of metals presently have little incentive to
protect as yet ill-defined deep seabed mining interests. End


Finance Committee Elections


6. (U) Finance Committee (FC) members serve five-year
terms. The terms of two stalwart members, the UK's Michael
Wood and France's Jean Pierre Levy, will conclude by next
year's meeting. During the ISBA meeting, there was
controversy with regard to whether the UN Convention on the
Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) allows for any given individual to
serve more than two terms. The disagreement stemmed from
possible discrepancies between the official UNCLOS texts in
the various UN languages. Apparently the Spanish and French
texts are fairly definitive that members can only serve two
terms. The English text allows for the possibility of

7. (SBU) During the discussion of the issue, the political
dynamics were such that, generally speaking, the Latin
countries and some other developing countries favored the
two-term limitation. We presume their position was based on
the consideration that no one individual should be allowed to
become too powerful within the committee where many states
will not always have representation. By contrast, ISBA SYG
Nandan, apparently fearing loss of some of the individuals he
has counted on in the past to address the most delicate
issues raised in the FC, pressed for the more flexible

8. (U) The U.S. took the position that we needed to consult
legal experts in Washington. Since this issue arose during
the last hour of the last day, this effectively meant that
the U.S. was asking that no decision be made. Unfortunately,
during the ensuing discussion, Australia made the suggestion
that the meeting of States Party to the Law of the Sea
(SPLOS) be asked to resolve the question. Some other states,
notably Russia, agreed with the proposal. Ultimately, with
the U.S. and others taking the opposite view, there was no
consensus on how to go forward. How the issue will be
resolved is not clear, but FC elections will need to take
place during next year's ISBA session.


The Voluntary Trust Fund


9. (U) In 2002, in response to growing developing country
demands, ISBA established a voluntary trust fund (VTF) aimed
at defraying the cost of travel of developing country experts
to meetings of ISBA's Legal and Technical Commission (LTC)
and Finance Committee (FC.) Donations to the fund have been
steady, but relatively minor. Consequently, the member
states of ISBA authorized money to be advanced to the VTF
from interest accrued in an unrelated fund, the Pioneer Fund.

10. (SBU) The Government of Japan disassociated itself from
the latter action and, as an alternative, advocated the
establishment of a contingency fund with
similar goals as the VTF, but with funds drawn from the ISB
program budget. The U.S. and others - France, Germany, UK -
opposed the concept of using program funds for this purpose.
In part, we objected to the unhelpful precedent such a means
of funding would create for the entire UN system. Throughout
the course of discussions on this issue, it became clear that
the Japanese position was the work of its somewhat renegade
FC representative, and, as we were unofficially told by other
Japanese representatives, did not accurately represent the
position of the Japanese government.

11. (SBU) After considerable work on the margins of other
meetings, particularly the 2004 Major Maritime Powers meeting
and the 2004 UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and
Law of the See meeting, the Japanese government apparently
decided to assert control over its FC representative.
Clearly under specific instructions from Tokyo, in the 2005
meetings of the FC, the Japanese representative did not raise
his previous concerns about the VTF and did not insist on use
of ISBA program funds. He also agreed to the FC
recommendation that the VTF be replenished from interest
accumulated from the Pioneer funds.

12. (SBU) Comment: The greater issue of determining how
much money is actually available in the Pioneer Fund as
interest, or even as rincipal, remains to be determined. We
expect increasing requests for use of the funds (see below)
as member states become more cognizant of their existence.
End Comment.



Proposed Trust Fund to Help Developing Country Scientists



13. (U) In his report to the meeting, Secretary-General
(SYG) Nandan proposed the establishment of a trust fund to
help developing country scientists participate in
international research projects. He suggested that money for
the trust come from funds accrued from pioneer investor fees
or overages from future administrative fees. Developing
countries enthusiastically embraced the general concept. The
Finance Committee (FC) handled the issue well, first by
asserting FC authority over the subject, and then by seeking
a detailed proposal from Nandan on the trust. The FC also
engineered that Nandan agree to speak with pioneer investors
- presumably in case there are any objections to the use of
these funds for the proposed purpose.

14. (SBU) Comment: This proposed trust fund will be an
issue during next year's meeting. What the SYG proposes, and
how the FC handles its recommendation concerning the trust,
will both be critical in defining the discussion of the trust
by ISBA members. End Comment.


Criteria for Chamber B Eligibility


15. (U) On the margins of the ISBA meeting, the Korean
delegation pushed hard for the Chamber A (roughly consumer
countries) and Chamber B (roughly investor countries) to work
towards defining the criteria for membership in Chamber B.
As per explicit provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of
the Sea (UNCLOS), only eight member states can be eligible
for election to the Council from Chamber B. Eligibility is
based on national investments in deep seabed mining. Chamber
B eligibility was last determined in 1995, and did not
include Korea. The U.S. was asked to coordinate the process
of coming to an acceptable conclusion on eligibility criteria.

16. (U) On the margins of the ISBA meeting, the U.S. hosted
a meeting of A-B members to discuss an acceptable process
leading up to next year's meeting. The group identified a
preliminary list of questions to be addressed in determining
criteria. That preliminary list includes: What types of
resources can be included? - nodules, sulfides, crusts,
methane hydrates, others? What types of activity costs can
be included? -- marine scientific research, how to
distinguish basic marine scientific research from
"prospecting", exploration, ship building, costs of baseline
studies, costs of training programs, costs incurred by
private companies? Which technologies, particularly
developing technologies? What should be the
periodicity/interval of review? Should activities within an
EEZ be included? Who should determine criteria - i.e. role,
if any, of ISBA Secretariat? Korea's ultimate position was
that should this exercise not result in acceptable criteria,
then it would ask the ISBA Secretariat to promulgate criteria.

17. (SBU) Comment: From the U.S. perspective, Korean
interests, expressed points of views, and specific
interpretations of UNCLOS are very similar to our own. In
fact, they are closer than some of the countries currently
included in the B group (Netherlands, for example.)
Generally speaking, including Korea in the B Chamber seems
desirable. However, it is unlikely that this exercise in
systematically identifying and defining criteria for group B
membership will ultimately be successful. Agreeing on
general criteria will be difficult enough. Once having
established those criteria, agreeing on exactly which
monetary figures can be included, or should be excluded, will
be virtually impossible to agree on. Ultimately, as happened
in 1995, it seems highly likely that only a political
solution of some kind will conclude this discussion. End


Succession of ISBA Secretary-General Nandan


18. (SBU) Satya Nandan (Fiji) has been the
Secretary-General (SYG) of ISBA since 1996, and is the only

SYG the organization has had. During his tenure, for the
most part, he has balanced the interests of developing and
developed countries. However, his re-election in 2004 was
both contentious and close. He told us then that he intended
to seek his government's support for his candidacy as an
International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) judge.
Apparently, perhaps given the closeness of the SYG race, his
government decided not to put his ITLOS candidacy forward.
Nandan has noticeably aged in the job, allegedly spends as
little time as possible in Kingston, and though he has not
told us this directly, must have been disappointed not to be
selected as an ITLOS candidate. We believe it is highly
likely that Nandan will not serve his full term as SYG.

19. (SBU) Comment: The issue of Nandan's succession,
whenever it arises, will be a critical one with respect to
shaping the role of ISBA as the organization searches for a
full-time purpose while seabed mining remains only a distant
possibility. Nandan's deputy, Nii Allotey Odunton (Guinea)
is one possible successor. However, though Odunton remains a
viable candidate, he is generally seen as a technician who
might not have the political savvy required to ensure that
ISBA not be high-jacked by one of its factions. ISBA
candidatures are normally handled through the five UN
regional groups. A Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
candidate is generally assumed not to be politically viable,
though perhaps a smaller WEOG country - Portugal, Belgium,
Malta - with a very popular candidate might be feasible.
Given the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries
(GRULAC) push to expand the concept of "the common heritage
of mankind" to include resources other than those
specifically identified in the UN Convention on the Law of
the Sea (UNCLOS), it is unlikely that the U.S. would want to
support a GRULAC based candidate. Grossly speaking, this is
likely to leave the most viable candidates as coming from the
Eastern European group, the Asian group, or the African
group. End Comment.


Other Issues


20. (U) Dates of Next Year's Session - The Twelfth Session
of ISBA is tentatively scheduled for August 7-18, 2006, in
Kingston, Jamaica.

21. (SBU) German Application for Seabed Mining -- Germany
applied for a designated area in which to explore the
possibility of manganese nodule mining. The application was
accepted with little substantive debate except for developing
countries urging Germany to expand its training program
associated with the deep seabed exploration. The German
delegation promised to attempt to do so. Specific
coordinates for the new German area are available at: The German delegation confirmed for us what
they had told us before: The German government does not
intend to mine at the current time. Instead, the decision to
seek the approval for exclusive exploratory rights to this
area was taken in light of a perceived long-term global metal
demand increases, in combination with an opportunity to
capitalize on substantial previous research made by a German
firm no longer interested in the data.

22. (U) Elections to the Legal and Technical Commission
(LTC) and the Finance Committee (FC) - Since the 2004 ISBA
session, four members of the FC resigned. They were replaced
through uncontested elections of a countryman. New FC
members are: Oleg A. Safronov (Russia), Alexander Stedtfeld
(Germany), Antonin Paoizek (Czech Republic), Kyaw Moe Tun
(Burma). Similarly, on the LTC, three members resigned over
the course of the year. One member died. All four vacancies
were filled by uncontested elections of countryman. New LTC
members are: Syamal Kanti Das (India), Mahmoud Samir Samy
(Egypt), Michael Wiedicke-Hombach (Germany), and Adam M.
Tugio (Indonesia).

23. (U) Elections of Assembly and Council Officers - It was
the Western European and Others Group's (WEOG) turn to
provide the Assembly's President. An internal debate was
resolved on the margins of the UN Informal Consultative
Process on Oceans and Law of the Sea in June in New York in
favor of a compromise candidate: Norway's Olav Myklebust.
He was subsequently elected at ISBA by consensus. Assembly
Vice Presidents, also elected by consensus, were selected
from Poland (Eastern European group), South Africa (African
group), Brazil (Latin and Caribbean group) and Bangladesh
(Asian group.) In the Council, the Asian Group nominated
Korean Ambassador Hee Kwon Park to be Assembly Chairperson.
He was elected by consensus. Council Vice Chairs, also
elected by consensus, were selected from: Canada (WEOG),
Russia (Eastern European), and Jamaica (Latin and Caribbean.)
The African group did not nominate a Vice Chair.

24. (U) IUCN Request for Observer Status - IUCN's request
for observer status was approved by the Assembly without

25. (U) UK Continues to Lead G-10 - The Group of 10 (G-10)
is a traditional, self-selected, like-minded group of
countries that are particularly influential with respect to
seabed mining and their roles within ISBA. The group
consists of: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan,
Netherlands, Russia, UK, and the U.S. The UK, which has led
the G-10 for the past two years, agreed to continue doing so
for at least one more year.

26. (U) Death of Kenneth Rattray Observed - ISBA
Secretary-General Nandan made a short intervention on the

death of Jamaica's Dr. Kenneth Rattray, a long-time Law of
the Sea expert. Many delegates who knew Rattray also made
statements. The Jamaican delegation promised to pass on the
sentiments to the Jamaican Foreign Ministry and to Dr.
Rattray's family.

27. (U) U.S. Delegation - The U.S. delegation, only
observers since the U.S. is not a member of UNCLOS, consisted
of Constance C. Arvis, State, OES, Oceans Affairs, head of
delegation, and Patricia Kraniotis, NOAA, General Counsel's