This paper focuses on enforcement issues with regard to deep-sea mineral mining in terms of unilateral and multilateral structures. It begins by exploring early forays into mineral mining, namely in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the necessity of the extractives industries generally. Next, this comment analyzes unilateral policy regimes, specifically through the lens of United States courts and through differing mining regulatory regimes between countries, and how unilateral regulatory change is likely an ineffective mechanism for enforcing standards for the industry. Finally, this comment looks at international structures that currently govern deep-sea mineral mining and how multilateral regulatory regimes may provide an effective enforcement mechanism in the future. This comment addresses, among other things, (1) the origins of deep-sea mineral mining regulation under the International Seabed Authority; (2) domestic regulation of deep-sea mineral mining; (3) the environmental concerns associated with deep-sea mining; (4) how unilateral changes to regulatory regimes may create externalities that undermine enforcement efforts; and (5) dynamics of international norms and its effects on deep-sea mineral mining. It also explores potential solutions for industry regulations and how to systematize such regulations. It concludes that while the impacts of deep-sea mining are not thoroughly understood, there exist both domestic and international solutions to account for future unknown risk and possible incentive structures that can effectively direct countries toward compliance with international norms. Though this comment takes the position that unilateral policy efforts with regard to deep-sea mineral mining seem unlikely to be effective, it nonetheless recommends that the United States pass new legislation raising liability limits for deep-sea mining organizations similar in manner to the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. This comment further recommends that any international law-based changes include creating new international agreements, or amendments to existing agreements, to emplace incentive structures necessary for compelling compliance with international norms, which would grant the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) adjudicative authority and the World Trade Organization (WTO) the authority to provide specific, enforceable trade-based remedies for deep-sea mineral mining infractions.
Alexander W. Read,
Unilateral and Multilateral Deep-Sea Mineral Mining Regulations: Why an Effective Enforcement Mechanism is Needed in Order to Promote Responsible Mining Practices in the Future,
Ocean & Coastal L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/oclj/vol27/iss1/7