Seabed Authority votes for secretary general todayWednesday, July 20, 2016
BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor — features firstname.lastname@example.org
SITTING secretary general of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Nii Allotey Odunton is expected to face his deputy and ISA legal counsel Michael Lodge in a challenge for the top job when the Assembly sits today.
The successful candidate will serve as the ISA’s chief administrative officer for the four-year term from January 1, 2017 - December 31, 2020.
Odunton, 65, is an economist from Ghana. He holds a master’s in mineral economics and mine finance, as well as an MBA from Columbia University in New York. He has held the post for two consecutive terms, beginning in 2009. He succeeded Satya Nandan of Fiji, the authority’s first secretary-general, who left after three consecutive terms.
Lodge, meanwhile, is a barrister-at-law from the UK who has been deputy secretary general since 2011, and who took up his second stint as legal counsel in 2007. He holds a master’s in marine policy from London School of Economics and Political Science, a diploma in coastal navigation, a barrister-at-law from Gray’s Inn, London, and a degree in law from University of East Anglia. He is 57.
The two candidates were nominated by their respective home governments and campaigned via coloured brochures circulated at sittings of the Council and Assembly.
"Secretary General Odunton has several years of experience working as an international civil servant," the Government of the Republic of Ghana says in Odunton’s brochure.
"He was interim director general of the enterprise and deputy to the secretary general of the ISA until his election as secretary general. Since then, he has led the authority in a number of initiatives and projects towards the sustainability of the resources of the international seabed area for the purpose of realising the benefits of the common heritage of mankind and ensuring that the proper processes, procedures, and regulations are effectively implemented for efficient and sustainable deep seabed mining," it continues.
Among his achievements during his two-term tenure, Odunton lists such things as "coordinating the approval of 16 applications for plans of work for exploration, bringing the number to 24; establishing an annual contractor overhead charge of US$47,000 to cover costs incurred in administering contracts; establishing a processing fee of US$67,000 for the extension of exploration contracts expiring in 2016 and 2017; and convening eight workshops and six sensitisation seminars on the work of the authority".
In terms of a vision for the upcoming term, he articulates a nine-point list which speaks, inter alia, to standardising environmental data and information on biodiversity associated with deep sea mineral resources; standardising the results used for reporting on the mineral resources during exploration; completing the work on the standardisation of the taxonomy of biodiversity associated with polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich ferromanganese deposits; facilitating rigorous environmental impact assessments from mining in the area; and continuing to use workshops and seminars as a means of bringing together scientific, legal, mining experts, and contractors to collaborate on the work of the authority.
On Tuesday, he told the
Jamaica Observer that he is the right fit for the job.
"I am seeking re-election because there are a lot of important matters before the authority and I have the experience that is needed to carry them forward," he said.
But Lodge, whose candidacy the UK Government describes in his campaign brochure as "unmatched" and "unparalled", believes it’s time for a fresh approach.
"I believe in this authority and I think it’s time to take it to the next level. It needs new leadership, new impetus, new direction," he told the
"In the last eight to 10 years or so, the authority has become very stagnant. We’ve had no new directions. It’s been more than five years that we’ve last had a workshop in Jamaica, for example, and that’s unacceptable. We need to do more," Lodge said.
"I’ve got more than 25 years’ experience in Law of the Sea and this is an organisation that is based on law. I’m recognised as a person who has contributed to the Law of the Sea for many, many years."
Asked to define what he meant by new direction, Lodge pointed to the preparatory meetings at the United Nations to draft an international legally binding instrument on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, and to what he said was a huge amount of commercial activity in seabed mining.
"The authority is becoming a much more important global organisation, and I believe it’s time for (us) to take advantage of that. Take this session, for example, we are seeing a record turnout of countries. In past years we struggled to get enough countries to come to Kingston. I’m very pleased to see that, because it suggests to me that the international communtiy is interested in the authority, but they want change," he said.
In addition to the large turnout, Lodge argued that the increased number of candidates vying to be elected to the authority’s Legal and Technical Commission and its Finance Committee were proof of increased interest in the ISA’s work.
"We have 31 candidates for the Legal and Technical Commission. We’ve never seen that many candidates before. We have 17 candidates for the Finance Committee. We’ve never seen that many candidates before. In general, it’s that the work of the authority is becoming much more important globally," said Lodge.
Members don’t publicly discuss which way they vote, but support is expected to be divided along geographic lines, particularly where the African group and the Western European and Other States group are concerned.
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