Catherine Blanchard at ASIL conference: The BBNJ Agreement's impact on deep-sea mining

American Society of International Law (ASIL)

Impression of deep-sea mining: collection of nodules (by Gringo on Wikimedia, CC BY 4.0)

On 5 April 2024, Catherine Blanchard participated in the Annual Conference of the American Society of International Law, which took place in Washington D.C. This year’s conference, discussing the theme ‘International Law in an Interdependent World’, addressed questions related to whether international law can respond to new challenges, while reevaluating and reimagining the purpose, place, and power of international law in response to interdependence. One of the important foci of the conference was on the role of small-island States in international law, especially with regards to climate-related challenges.

Catherine spoke on a panel entitled ‘What is the BBNJ Agreement's impact on deep-sea mining?’. She presented some reflections on the main objectives of, and issues covered by, the Agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement) in light of its potential interactions with instruments and institutions regulating deep-sea mineral related activities. She also reflected on whether – and if so to what extent – States negotiating frameworks which interact or might overlap with the BBNJ Agreement should aim for consistency among instruments.

The panel also included presentations by Klaas Willaert (Gent University), Nico Schrijver (Leiden University) and Katy Youel Page (US State Department), who shared remarks on the interactions between the BBNJ Agreement and the work of the International Seabed Authority considering the ‘not undermining’ clause, the role of international organizations in managing the commons, and the participation of States in international negotiations on these issues.

A summary of the panel’s findings will be included in the proceedings of the conference.