International Seabed Authority

International Seabed Authority

International Seabed Authority


  • The International Seabed Authority is an international intergovernmental organization.
  • The Authority operates as an autonomous international organization with its own Assembly, Council, and Secretariat.


  • International Seabed Authority came into existence on 16 November 1994.
  • It was established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


The Authority, which has its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.


The Authority has 167 members and the European Union, and is composed of all parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.


The ISA’s dual mission is to –

  • Authorize and control the development of mineral-related operations in the international seabed considered the “Common Heritage of All Mankind” and also
  • Protect the ecosystem of the seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil in “The Area” beyond national jurisdiction.

Main Objective

The ISA is to safeguard the international deep sea, the waters below 200 meters or 656 feet, where photosynthesis is hampered by inadequate light.


  • Governing approximately half of the total area of the world’s oceans, the ISA is to exercise oversight of activities that might threaten biological diversity and harm the marine environment.
  • The Authority operates by contracting with private and public corporations and other entities authorizing them to explore, and potentially exploit, specified areas on the deep seabed for mineral resources, such as cobalt, nickel and manganese.


Since the ISA’s inception in 1994, the Authority has approved over two dozen ocean floor mining exploration contracts in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, with the majority of contracts for exploration in the Clarion-Clipperton Zone between Hawaii and Mexico. This is where polymetallic nodules contain copper, cobalt and other minerals used to power electric batteries.


Along with a Secretary-General, two principal organs establish the policies and govern the work of the Authority: The Assembly, in which all UNCLOS parties are represented, and a 36-member Council elected by the Assembly.


The ISA is funded by UNCLOS members.

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International Space StationInternational Court of Justice (ICJ)