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The International Seabed Authority and Article 82 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

Since the entry into force in 1994 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (the LOSC), a great deal of attention has been focused on the implementation of Article 76 of the Convention, which establishes the juridical definition of the continental shelf. In comparison, very little attention has been given to Article 82, which provides that payments or contributions in kind are to be made by coastal states in respect of the exploitation of the non-living resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. Those payments or contributions in kind are to be distributed by the International Seabed Authority to developing states, "particularly the least developed and the land-locked amongst them". The Convention provides little guidance as to how Article 82 might be implemented in practice. The basic idea behind the provision is quite straightforward. But the text suffers from a lack of precision and raises numerous questions of interpretation. In this presentation, the author illustrates some of the difficult issues of principle and of practice that Article 82 raises. There is a strong possibility that the first source of revenue for the international community from the resources of the deep sea-bed is likely to be the payments or contributions made through Article 82. For that reason, it is important that the difficulties associated with Article 82 are resolved sooner rather than later in order to avoid potential future disputes over the interpretation and application of the Article as well as to provide certainty to industry anxious to promote activities on the continental shelf.


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