Peaceful public demonstrations must be permitted in an off-site location, run by Jamaican authorities, it says. It is not known if such a space has been set up.
Only materials approved by the ISA may be distributed within the Site, and only its personnel are authorized to distribute such materials.
Using the ISA’s name, emblem or logo during the talks in a way that the authority deems “unlawful” is also a violation of the new rules. During the last discussions of the ISA in March, the the authority asked Greenpeace to immediately withdraw a campaign poster posted outside the venue which called it ‘The Irresponsible Seabed Authority’.
Meanwhile, the media is not allowed to use “spoofed items” such as satirical cartoons of delegates, heads of state or other individuals. Journalists and cameramen or sound technicians must not engage in “derisive activity or criticism” directed at the ISA, Member States, the Secretariat, Jamaican government authorities, “or any individual who would go to against the elementary rules of decorum”.
Audio or visual recordings of official open and closed meetings are also prohibited. The reasoning of the ISA is that all of its meetings are webcast and recordings are available.
Recordings of participants inside meeting rooms during breaks must be approved in advance by the ISA Press Office, while recordings at side events require prior approval by the Press Office and the organizer of the event.
Failure to comply with any of the rules “may result in removal or denial of access” to the venue, the ISA says.
According to the document, the rules are to “ensure the effective operation and management of all International Seabed Authority conferences and events without interference of any kind and to create a safe, professional and trusting working environment.” mutual”.
It also indicates that the number of participants in ISA meetings has also “significantly increased”, which leads to an increased need to manage them, so that they “achieve their objectives”.
“There was a lot of discussion among civil society organizations during the negotiations, wondering what is possible and what is not. The risk of debanding or withdrawing accreditation would have a very high price, especially for many people who have come a very long way to get to these negotiations,” said Louisa Casson, Greenpeace Global Project Manager.
She called the rules “draconian,” especially those that go beyond conduct in the actual meeting but prohibit criticism and even parody, she said. “Humor is a useful way of trying to communicate what’s going on in these pretty murky negotiations,” she said.
The language used by the ISA in the document is also subject to interpretation, Casson also pointed out. “Who decides what “unlawful use” means, what are the criteria? In the name of what do they judge that criticism as a whole is not allowed, when freedom of expression is a fundamental right, which should be defended, in particular by international organizations affiliated with the United Nations? she declared.
The ISA had not widely communicated its rules to participants in the negotiations, Casson added. “We find that even some governments are very concerned about these regulations, they don’t feel like they’ve been consulted,” she said.
The ISA has been criticized in the past for its lack of transparency and access to public participation. A 2022 study concluded that the authority had “neglected” its obligations under human rights law regarding public participation and lacked transparency.
Elisa Morgera, professor of global environmental law at the University of Strathclyde and co-author of the article, said that in general civil society participation in the ISA was “very difficult” and “unusually controversial”. and the organization’s treatment of the environment and human rights defenders “borders on stigma and harassment”.
Pointing to a statement in the regulations that claim they conform to best practice from the UN and other intergovernmental organizations, she said: “They certainly do not conform to any UN process that I know of.”
“There are a lot of powers assigned to security personnel, but with no clear indication of how they will exercise them or even any indication of justification for action,” she said.
“One of the key points raised by international law with regard to human rights defenders is that it is often when they are confronted by security agents that their rights are violated.”
Security officers must be trained to recognize and respect the freedom of expression rights of everyone, but in particular those of environmental human rights defenders,” she said.
People working for NGOs currently in the talks are confused by the rules, Morgera said. “They’re not sure if there’s a way for them to share their knowledge and participate in the process that will be acceptable,” she said.
“I think we’re going beyond concerns about transparency here, it’s potentially a violation of people’s rights to free speech,” she said.
ISA member states have an obligation to respect human rights based on the treaties to which they are party, so they must not turn a blind eye to behavior that restricts the right to freedom of expression , she added.
The ISA did not respond to a request for comment, or to clarify details of arrangements for offsite protests.
Negotiations at the ISA will continue until July 28. Activists do not expect deep sea mining regulations to be finalized by the end of the talks.
“So far the regulations are 100 pages of bracketed text, there’s so much that’s not being done,” said Bobbi-Jo Dobush, legal officer for the US community foundation Ocean Foundation.
“ISA member states have been working on this for decades – conceptually, the delegates don’t even agree on the major points. We’re really a long way from the regulations,”
However, for the first time in ISA history, it will also discuss a proposal for a long-term suspension of deep-sea mining.
Several countries, including Chile, Costa Rica, Palau and Vanuatu, made this suggestion, which emphasizes that governments have an obligation to protect the marine environment from damage caused by deep-sea mining, and that Government decisions at ISA must respect, not undermine, their international climate and biodiversity commitments and the precautionary principle.
Activists don’t necessarily expect the proposal to pass this year, Casson said. “But it will help us show which governments are capable of supporting something strong and which still feel uncertain or undecided.
“It’s a good litmus test of where the debate is right now, that there are a number of governments that want to use the ISA to actually curb this industry, rather than seeing it accelerate” , she said.
Catherine Early is a freelance environmental journalist and chief reporter for The environmentalist. She tweets at @Cat_Early76.