What is the International Seabed Authority (ISA)?

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Prelims: International Relations & Institutions
What is the International Seabed Authority (ISA)? Blog Image

About International Seabed Authority (ISA):


  • It is an  international organization established in 1994 to regulate mining and related activities in the international seabed beyond national jurisdiction, an area that includes most of the world’s oceans.
  • The ISA came into existence upon the entry into force of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which codified international law regarding territorial waters, sea lanes, and ocean resources. 
  • Headquarters: Kingston, Jamaica
  • Members: As of May 2023, ISA has 169 Members, including 168 Member States and the European Union.
  • Functions:
    • The ISA is responsible for granting licenses and regulating activities related to the exploration and exploitation of mineral resources in the international seabed. 
    • Its ensures that these activities are carried out in a manner that protects the marine environment and promotes the equitable and efficient utilization of resources.
  • Structure:
    • The supreme authority of the ISA is the assembly, in which all ISA members are represented. 
    • The assembly sets general policies, establishes budgets, and elects a 36-member council, which serves as the ISA’s executive authority. 
    • The council approves contracts with private corporations and government entities for exploration and mining in specified areas of the international seabed.
    • The council oversees implementation of the seabed provisions of the UNCLOS and establishes provisional rules and procedures (subject to approval by the assembly) by which the ISA exercises its regulatory authority. 
    • The secretary-general of the ISA is nominated by the council and is elected by the assembly to a four-year term.


Key facts about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS):

  • UNCLOS, also called the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea Treaty, is an international agreement that establishes a legal framework for all marine and maritime activities.
  • It lays down a comprehensive regime of law and order in the world's oceans and seas, establishing rules governing all uses of the oceans and their resources. 
  • UNCLOS became effective on 16th November 1982.
  • UNCLOS covers a wide range of issues, including:
    • The definition of maritime zones, such as the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, and the continental shelf.
    • The rights and responsibilities of coastal states and flag states.
    • The conservation and management of marine resources.
    • The protection of the marine environment.
    • The peaceful settlement of disputes.


Q1) What is the exclusive economic zone (EEZ)?

The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is a maritime zone extending from the shores of a coastal state for up to 200 nautical miles (370 km). Within its EEZ, a coastal state has sovereign rights over the exploration and exploitation of natural resources, including fish, oil, and gas. The coastal state also has jurisdiction over certain activities, such as marine scientific research and the establishment and use of artificial islands.The EEZ was established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which was adopted in 1982 and entered into force in 1994.

Source: Nations aim to ink deep sea mining rules by 2025