International Law

Deep seabed mining and the International Seabed Authority

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Auditorium A1, Maison de la paix, Geneva Graduate Institute
Chemin Eugène-Rigot 2A, 1211 Geneva

What is currently happening and where are we headed?

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 Deep seabed mining, which involves the exploration and eventual exploitation of ocean minerals at depths greater than 200 metres, has been the subject of increasing interest in recent years. While the deep seabed is known to contain mineral deposits with significant metal content such as nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese, extracting these minerals will cause devastating harm to the marine environment.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA), the international organisation comprising 167 member states and the EU responsible for the management of mineral resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction, has awarded over 30 exploration contractors and is currently in the midst of negotiations on regulations to cover future exploitation activities. Negotiations have been ongoing since 2019, though, it is the invocation of a treaty provision known as the two-year rule by the Republic of Nauru imposing a deadline on the ISA to adopt the regulations by 9 July 2023 and growing calls for a pause or moratorium that serve as the backdrop for this proposed event.         

The main objective of the proposed event is to sensitise the topic of deep seabed mining to a broader audience, including discussing the mandate and ongoing work of the ISA, alongside the many associated concerns and tensions among member states and stakeholders.

This event will provide an overview of the state of play at the ISA, including the accelerated regulatory process and implications of the two-year rule at the ISA amidst growing opposition to deep seabed mining, as the deadline of July 2023 approaches.


Opening Session / Welcome Remarks

  • Mme Marie-Laure Salles (Director, IHEID)
  • Prof Mark Lawrence (Director, RIFS -Potsdam)



  • Prof Alexander Proelss (University of Hamburg)



  • Prof Zachary Douglas (IHEID)
  • Pradeep Singh (RIFS - Potsdam)
  • Aline Jaeckel (University of Wollongong)
  • Hannah Lily (Independent Consultant)
  • Toby Fisher (Matrix Chambers)



  • Minna Epps (IUCN)
  • Clément Chazot (IUCN)
  • Julian Jackson (Pew Charitable Trusts)


Closing Session / Final Remarks

  • Dona Bertarelli (IUCN Patron of Nature)
  • Bruno Oberle (Director-General, IUCN)

Register for the event here.


International Law

Event Agenda