Legal analysis calls for greater safeguards in SPC framework for experimental seabed mining

The SPC framework is striking in its omission of any serious discussion of the right of indigenous peoples says international law firm BOL

International law firm Blue Ocean Law (BOL), together with Fiji-based regional non-governmental organisation, Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), have released “An Assessment of the SPC Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework (RLRF) for Deep Sea Minerals Exploration and Exploitation.”

The report is an independent analysis of the RLRF, the legal framework produced by the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), funded by the European Union (EU).

“Our assessment analyzes the RLRF from an international law perspective, focusing on problematic aspects of the SPC-EU framework,” says Attorney Julian Aguon of BOL. The framework, says Aguon, is striking in its omission of any serious discussion of the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), inasmuch as large-scale development activities such as experimental deep sea mining trigger protections under international law. These include the right to be meaningfully consulted throughout every stage of the development process, and the right of affected indigenous communities to give or withhold their consent to these activities.

Also troubling, say PANG and BOL, is the fact that the SPC-EU framework undercuts established environmental law tenets such as the precautionary approach and the avoidance of transboundary harm by emphasizing the purported benefits of seabed mining while minimizing both the risks and adverse impacts of seabed mining. In addition to creating an overly positive picture of deep sea mining, the framework appears to prioritise creating a climate favorable to industry operators over the economic, cultural, and environmental rights of indigenous peoples. 

“While we appreciate the attempt to provide a model legal framework for the Pacific region, we urge the SPC to supplement the RLRF with comprehensive provisions that properly enshrine both FPIC and the precautionary and transboundary harm principles,” says PANG Coordinator Maureen Penjueli.

This is critical because some of our island nations will likely adopt this framework with all of its problematic aspects. Only by properly embedding these norms can the framework be brought into conformity with international best practices respecting environmental protection and the rights of indigenous peoples.

The BOL-PANG report has been published by the University of South Pacific. It is anticipated that the report will serve as a useful tool for many indigenous communities and civil society organizations currently at the forefront of these activities. 

Download: An Assessment of the SPC Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework (RLRF) for Deep Sea Minerals exploration and exploitation – FINAL Report [3MB]

1 Comment

Filed under Fiji, Human rights, Pacific region

One response to “Legal analysis calls for greater safeguards in SPC framework for experimental seabed mining

  1. Pere Caginivula

    It must be understood that all Pacific Oceans are not owned exclusively by respective Governments.
    It’s the supermarket for the rural based indigenous commune.
    So if a consortium wants development within qoliqoli areas than it must ensure FPI C is sought first.
    Such FPIC needs to be tabulated and idegene commune needs to know that’s a requirement prior to Project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s