International Seabed Authority

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is mandated to “organize, regulate, and control” all mineral-resource related activities in the Area (the seabed and ocean floor and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction) “for the benefit of humankind as a whole.” In so doing, ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seabed related activities.

ISA was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1994 Agreement). 

Polymetallic nodules were detected for the first time on the deep seabed by the HMS Challenger expedition in 1873. They are distributed on the surface or half-buried across the seabed, principally in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone in the Pacific Ocean. They contain nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese, among other metals. Other minerals have since been discovered in the Area: cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts, which are mineral accumulations on seamounts and contain cobalt, nickel, copper, molybdenum, and rare earth elements; and polymetallic sulphides, which are formed through chemical reactions around hydrothermal vent sites, and contain copper, zinc, lead, silver, and gold.

Under the common heritage regime, UNCLOS provides that: no state can claim or exercise sovereignty or sovereign rights over any part of the Area or its resources; activities in the Area must be carried out for the benefit of humankind as a whole, irrespective of the geographical location of states, taking into particular consideration developing states’ interests and needs; the Area and its resources are open to use exclusively for peaceful purposes by all states, whether coastal or land-locked, without discrimination; and financial and other economic benefits derived from activities in the Area must be equitably shared, on a non-discriminatory basis.

Events

Showing 1 - 10 of 11 results

3rd Part of the 28th Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority

Delegates continued work on the development of exploitation regulations for seabed mining, following a roadmap adopted in July 2023. However, regulating commercial exploitation of deep-sea minerals is no easy task, and there is no real indicator of progress for assessing if the roadmap is in line with reality or wishful thinking.
Event 30 October 2023 - 8 November 2023

1st Part of the 26th Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA)

The Council’s substantive discussions focused on the draft regulations for deep seabed mining,  which will need to ensure environmental protection while balancing stakeholders’ interests.  Delegates engaged in discussions over new proposals on regional environmental management plans (REMPs) and the financial model for mineral exploitation.
Event 17 February 2020 - 21 February 2020

2nd Part of the 25th Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA)

Talks focused on the Authority’s central consideration at this point in time: the development of the draft exploitation regulations on deep-seabed mining. These regulations, once concluded, will govern future activities in the world’s oceans, yet will need to ensure environmental protection while simultaneously balancing stakeholders’ interests. The sessions were successful in advancing, inter alia, calls for environmental protection in deep sea mining, operationalizing the Authority’s Strategic Plan, and shaping the organizational culture towards more participation and transparency.
Event 15 July 2019 - 26 July 2019

1st Part of the 25th Annual Session of the International Seabed Authority (ISA)

Delegates tackled the herculean task of building the legal, institutional, and economic frameworks of an unprecedented expedition. The outcome of these deliberations, the draft regulations on exploitation of mineral resources in the Area, will govern future relevant activities in the oceans. As a long-standing negotiator emphasized, ‘We have the opportunity to get it right. We have the opportunity to show the world that fair benefit-sharing can take place.”
Event 25 February 2019 - 1 March 2019

2nd Part of the 24th Session of the International Seabed Authority

The Council made progress on the draft exploitation regulations, while recognizing the need for further work on the payment mechanism, environmental protection, and the Enterprise. The Assembly adopted the strategic plan for 2019-2023, with many welcoming the open consultation that preceded it and the placing of the ISA’s mandate in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Event 16 July 2018 - 26 July 2018

1st Part of the 24th Session of the International Seabed Authority

Even before arriving in Kingston, very few participants doubted that the draft regulations for deep-seabed mining would dominate discussions, given their role in unlocking the flow of monetary benefits into the ISA. Equally, quite a few Member States and stakeholders saw this meeting as an opportunity to ensure that the “regs” put in place the necessary environmental safeguards for a risky activity in the least known global ecosystem: the deep sea.
Event 5 March 2018 - 9 March 2018