A Jaeckel, ‘Benefitting from the Common Heritage of Humankind: From Expectation to Reality’, 35 International Journal of Marine and Coastal law 660-681 (2020) (open access)
The international seabed ‘Area’ and its mineral resources are the common heritage of mankind and must be administered for the benefit of humankind as a whole. Yet the vision of the benefits to be reaped from the Area has changed over the years. The common heritage concept encapsulates seemingly conflicting developmental, commercial, and ecological imperatives. With seabed mining edging closer to becoming a reality, there is a need to analyse these imperatives and the range of benefits that humankind can (and in some cases already does) derive from the Area. This article critically discusses six categories of benefits that are relevant to seabed mining and assesses them against historical expectations. These are wealth generation and redistribution, advancement of developing States, security of mineral supply, ecosystem services, scientific knowledge, and other uses of the Area.