The latest general assembly meeting of the International Seabed Authority in Jamaica effectively delayed the start of any deep-sea-mining operations but also postponed discussing a moratorium on such extraction efforts.
An intense three week negotiation within the United Nations-affiliated intergovernmental agency concluded Friday with a compromise: a commitment to work towards adopting mining regulations in 2025 and a promise to discuss a long term “precautionary pause” on mining — a proposal spearheaded by France, Chile, Costa Rica, Palau and Vanuatu — at a general assembly meeting next year. A total of 21 countries have to date joined in the call for a ban, precautionary pause or moratorium on deep seabed mining, notes the World Wildlife Foundation.
The decision came after negotiations broke down during the meeting. China, which wants to advance with mining, had blocked the moratorium motion from discussion, but finally agreed to allow it on the agenda in 2024.
The disagreement exposed “deep rifts” within the ISA, notes Mongabay. Both sides — proponents of deep-sea-mining and opponents — portrayed their stance as important for the environment. The first because mining would obtain metals used for green transition efforts, the latter because experts say extraction would have unknown, likely disastrous, environmental impact. (AFP)
At the heart of the discussions is a loophole known as the “two-year rule”, which says the ISA council must “consider and provisionally approve” applications two years after they are submitted, even though it has yet to finalise related regulations, explained Reuters last month.
Environmentalists welcomed the compromise as an “open door” to a proper discussion by the ISA assembly, which comprises 168 member states and the EU, on whether mining should go ahead at all, reports the Guardian.
Gina Guillén Grillo, Costa Rica’s representative to the ISA, said it was “very disappointing that one country by themselves can kidnap the assembly”, where all member states have a voice, and “hoped the objecting country will honour their word” to allow discussion next year.
Experts believe the environmental impact of deep-sea-mining would be far greater than initially believed, reports the Guardian.
More Deep Sea
- Outside the ISA negotiations in Kingston, “Ocean Depths Unveiled: Preserving the Abyss” an art exhibit organized by the Trinidad and Tobago-based Ecovybz Environmental Creatives in partnership with another youth-led organisation, Sustainable Oceans Alliance (SOA) Caribbean, “celebrated the wonders of the deep sea, while sending a message that the planet’s last and greatest wilderness (and carbon sink) must be protected and preserved,” writes Emma Lewis in Global Voices.
Kenya offers to lead multinational force into Haiti
Kenya’s government said it is ready to lead a multinational force into Haiti and send 1,000 police officers to help the country deal with its deteriorating security situation, reports the Miami Herald. Haiti’s government welcomed the Kenyan offer, Saturday, which called it “an excellent development.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Kenya’s offer to lead an international force to help Haiti’s police combat gang violence and encouraged other countries – particularly from the Caribbean – to join the effort. (Reuters)
Haiti’s government asked for international security help last year, a request backed by Guterres. But while there has been international support for a rapid action force, until now no country was willing to lead a deployment.
Kenya’s offer to lead a multinational security force comes amid a worsening security situation. Hundreds of Haitians protested in Port-au-Prince yesterday against the kidnapping of a U.S. citizen aid worker and her child. Attacks against aid organizations have pushed many to close, leaving thousands of vulnerable families without access to basic services like healthcare or education. (Associated Press)
- The St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Court of Appeal ruled in favor of iWitness News and its owner, journalist Kenton Chance, in relation to two counts of defamation related to their reportage on a 2018 court matter. The ruling is seen as a victory for freedom of the press in the country. (iWitness News)
- The island of Providence is governed by Colombia, but has more in common with the English-speaking Caribbean. Now the local Afro-Descendant Raizal community fears that redevelopment following a devastating 2020 hurricane could threaten their way of life, reports the Guardian.
- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures in favor of the Indigenous Carib community of Chinese Landing in Guyana, stating that they are at a serious and urgent risk of suffering irreparable harm to their human rights. (Demerara Waves, see last week’s Just Caribbean Updates.)
- Guyana’s Indigenous Carib community is facing threats, harassment, and violence due to their opposition to mining activities in their lands, says Loop. The Guyanese government will send a broad-based delegation to Chinese Landing to investigate the situation and prepare a report to submit to the IACHR.
- Six men who spent 14 years in prison have been found not guilty of murdering a 23-year-old man in 2009 in Trinidad. The prosecution relied on the evidence of a key witness who claimed to have been present during the planning of the murder, but he passed away in 2014 before the trial. As a result of the judge-alone trial, the men were acquitted and allowed to walk free. (Jamaica Observer)
- Antigua and Barbuda has become one of the first Caribbean nations to grant Rastafarians official sacramental authorization to grow marijuana for religious purposes. This decision aims to respect the rights of the Rastafarian community, reports Euro News Culture.
- St. Kitts and Nevis will allow cannabis smoking in certain public spaces. “If we have an environment that enables all to exist, while we upkeep the law, I really think that it is the best scenario that we can have”, said Prime Minister Terrance Drew who presented the bill. (Loop)
- United Nations experts raised concerns regarding a court ruling in Trinidad and Tobago that declares the 1951 Refugee Convention does not apply to the country. The ruling could have severe implications for people seeking international protection, particularly Venezuelan migrants. (See July 5’s Just Caribbean Updates)
- Trinidad and Tobago hosts over 28,000 asylum seekers and refugees from 42 countries, according to the UNHCR.
- Anxiety among many social media commentators in Jamaica over the treatment of a group of Haitian refugees “reflects an appreciation of the historical ties, and mixed feelings of admiration, helplessness, and obligation towards Haiti,” writes Emma Lewis in Global Voices. (See last week’s Just Caribbean Updates.)
- There has been an increase in homicides in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with seven men killed in the past week, bringing the total to 35, surpassing last year´s count of 42. The authorities’ tough-on-crime approach has not been effective, and the police have lost trust due to arrogance and brutality. (iWitness News)
Economics and Finance
- St. Kitts and Nevis, one of the smallest states in the Western Hemisphere and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, has a strong economy but faces concerns about corruption and corrupt practices, reports the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.
Reparations and Decolonisation
- Representatives from various African and Caribbean entities gathered in Bridgetown, Barbados, to demand reparations for slavery and its lasting impact on today’s society. (Euractiv)
- The Reparations and Racial Healing Study Tour in Barbados aims to advocate for reparations and healing on both the African and global stages, with the collaboration of prominent African leaders, Caribbean nations, and academic experts, reports Now Grenada.
- According to the Curaçao Chronicle, a protest has been announced in Curaçao against the planned unveiling of a statue of the historical slave leader Tula. The non-parliamentary political organization Kousa Promé believes the statue, created by a Dutch artist in 1973, does not accurately depict Tula and objects to his nude portrayal. (Repeating Islands)
Climate and Environmental Justice
- Avinash Persaud, the climate envoy of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and architect of the Bridgetown Agenda, rejects the conflation of loss and damage funding with climate reparations, reports Devex
- Climate risk insurance proposals, aimed at ensuring communities against economic losses caused by climate impacts, have gained traction in climate negotiations. Countries like Barbados argue that climate risk insurance might not work as expected and are reluctant to rely on a private, profit-driven sector for support, especially given the uncertainties of escalating climate risks. (Politico)
- The Kaliña, an Indigenous People in Suriname, are threatened by the rising sea levels, reports Climate Tracker. Consequences have resulted in the destruction of their community-operated guest house, leading to economic hardships for the village of Galibi.
- Dominica is at risk of losing its freshwater resource and more calls arise for the creation of a government-operated Water Management Agency, reports the Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.
- Suriname is hoping for an offshore oil boom similar to neighboring Guyana to boost its struggling economy and resolve its debt crisis. However, the lack of transparency in oil bids and contracts raises concerns about potential corruption and a “natural resource curse” that could benefit a small elite while leaving the majority of the population behind. (Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network)
- The new UN Environment Programme Global Climate Litigation Report 2023 has been published and, as the main conclusion, it shows that climate litigation around the world has more than doubled in the last five years.
- Open access to the book Disasters and History: The Vulnerability and Resilience of Past Societies published by Cambridge is now available in the following link. The book is the first one to make a comprehensive historical overview of hazards and disasters in which the authors examine how societies dealt with shocks and hazards and their potentially disastrous outcomes.
- Climate change is having negative impacts on the Caribbean region and some of them include coastal erosion and stronger hurricanes which poses significant threats to the region’s coastlines and communities as well as an influx of sargassum seaweed which affects health risks and coastal tourism. (Travel Noire)
- “We need a global system that pulls us all together to battle with this external threat to our manageable future,” says Sir David King, former UK chief scientific adviser and chairman of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, according to Independent.
- New episode of the podcast Caribbean Climate Calabash featuring journalist Deandre Williamson. “In this episode, she shares her experience connecting with other journalists through the climate justice journalism first cycle”.
The Caribbean and the World
- The Bahamian climate scientist Dr. Adelle Thomas has been elected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the new Working Group II Vice Chair – Region VI 7th Assessment Cycle.
- “This achievement of Dr. Thomas being elected is another step towards the government’s Climate Change mandate to ensure a long and prosperous Bahamas for future generations of Bahamians”, says the Minister on the election of Dr. Adelle Thomas to the IPCC. (The Government of the Bahamas Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
- Cuba and the EE.UU: two nations that present the difficulty of predicting with certainty how bilateral relations will evolve due to imponderable events and decisions that are not always predictable. (Euro News Culture)
LGTBQ and Women’s Rights
- Domestic violence was one of the main issues women suffered during the Covid pandemic. In Trinidad and Tobago, government policies were insufficient. Survivors of these episodes share their stories with deep reflections in an article on Caribbean Investigative Journalism Network.
- Women’s groups pushed back against a bill under debate in Bahamas’ parliament, which does not contain key provisions that would further help protect women and girls from violence. “This bill is not the bill that women’s rights groups have worked on for more than a decade. The bill we worked on and consented to was the Gender-Based Violence Bill”, Women United stated in a letter. (Eyewitness News)
- Renowned Cuban writer Leonardo Padura’s The Faces of Salsa traces the history of a genre that has defined the identity of the Hispanic Caribbean through 14 interviews with prominent musicians, including the Dominican Juan Luis Guerra, Johnny Ventura, Johnny Pacheco and Wilfredo Vargas. (Repeating Islands)
- Esmeralda Santiago’s Las Madres which oscillates between two pivotal years decades apart, is a deep-dive into the history of modern Puerto Rico and a number of its extraordinary women—their secrets, their tragedies, and the reclamations they share, writes Cristina García (author of Vanishing Map). (Repeating Islands)
- 8-10 Sept — The Climate Change Gen Z conference — The three-day virtual event that will allow current and up-and-coming climate activists and influencers an opportunity to improve their communication and branding around their passions — Organized by CESaRE and The Cropper Foundation
- The Guardian is looking for a Caribbean Correspondent. It is a full-time job and the candidate needs to be based in Kingston. For further information and application follow the link.
- Fos Feminista, an intersectional feminist organization centered around the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women, girls, and gender-diverse people, has opened a new vacancy for a research consultant. For further details and information about the opportunity follow the link.
- The Access to Information Initiative’s #ChampionsDeEscazú. To register follow the link .
Just Caribbean Updates