Public Affairs of International Seabed Authority

A Critical Analysis

Master's Thesis, 2015

87 Pages, Grade: 7





1. Introduction
1.1. Brief Description
1.2. Object and Scope
1.3. Research Questions
1.4. Hypotheses
1.5. Research Methodology
1.6. Chapterization

2. Origin and Development of the International Seabed Authority
2.1. Preliminary Consideration of UNCLOS 1982
2.2. The Convention and Its Public Affairs
2.3. History of International Seabed Authority
2.4. Nature and Fundamental Principles of the Authority
2.5. Organs of the Authority
2.6. International Fund
2.7. Legal Status, Privileges and Immunities
2.8. International Public Affairs of the Authority

3. Powers and Functions of International Seabed Authority
3.1. Legal Regime of Exclusive Economic Zone
3.2. Legal Regime of Continental Shelf
3.3. Functions of ISA in the Exploitation of Continental Shelf

4. Public Affairs of International Seabed Authority
4.1. Economic Argument
4.2. Shelf Entitlement for Landlocked States and Geographically Disadvantaged States
4.3. Rights of the Landlocked States
4.4. Rights of the Geographically Disadvantaged States
4.5. Revenue Sharing in the Convention among the States
4.6. LLGDS and Revenue Sharing
4.7. ITLOS and Least Developed States and Landlocked States
4.8. International Law of the Sea and Indian Maritime Legislation
4.9. Maritime Boundaries of India

4. Conclusion




Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten


I would like to express my deepest gratitude and sincere thanks to my guide Dr. P. Ravishankar Professor and Head, Centre for Public Affairs, University of Madras, for giving me an expert guidance and valuable support, if not, this effort of mine would not have become reality and success.

I would also like to express sincere thanks to my teacher Dr. Kalaichelvi Sivaraman, and Dr. R. Venkatesh, Assistant Professors, Anna Centre for Public Affairs, University of Madras for enthusiastic encouragement in all aspects of my study. I am thankful to Dr. P.S. Rajeshwari, Dr. G.P. Sudha and Dr. K. Devendiran for their insightful interactions.

I would be failing in my duty if I fail to thank my parents and brothers for their help and support in completing this work successfully.



1.1. Brief Description

The percentage of wealth contained beneath the high seas has become more and more apparent in recent years.1 Hence the technologically developed nations are interested to invest and exploit the resources in the high seas.2 Consequently it brings inequality in economic status among the international community. As a result, it poses sever problems to the developing countries and also to the landlocked or geographically disadvantaged states.

To carry out the activities in the Area beyond national jurisdiction, for the benefit of mankind, the International Seabed Authority has established. The Authority performs number of public affairs activities for the benefit of developing states:3 (i) regulates the activities in the seabed, ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (the Area);4 and (ii) administers the resources of the Area.5

The ISA provides equitable sharing of benefits arise out of the Area among the states. Thereby it brings the equal progress in economic development among the member nations in the international seabed area, on the one hand; and protects the economic interest of the least developed, land-locked and geographically disadvantaged states, on the other. The research work analyses the public affairs of International Seabed Authority in securing the interest of the economically weaker and geographically disadvantaged states.

1.2. Object and Scope of the Study

The UNO has adopted many conventions and protocols in different fields to regulate and administer, in which the UNCLOS 1982 is to regulate the rights and duties of coastal and other states for the exploration and exploitation of living and non-living resources in the sea.

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is established under the 1982 UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of the UNCLOS to organize and control the activities in the Area established under Part XI. The Area of the sea and its resources are deemed to be “common heritage of mankind”, there no sovereign or other rights may be recognized.

The object of study is to analyze the affairs of ISA in the aforesaid Area, and its contribution towards the economic development and welfare of weaker states. The study limited to origin and development, powers and functions, and jurisdictional operations of ISA.

1.3. Research Questions

1. What does it mean by public affairs of International Seabed Authority?
2. Why the ISA has been established under UNCLOS?
3. How does the Area become a profitable business for the states?
4. How does the ISA secure economic interest of the developing states?
5. What are the rights and duties available to the Least Developed, Land Locked, and Geographically Disadvantaged States under UNCLOS?

upon the entry into force of the UNCLOS 1982. The Authority became fully operational as an autonomous international organization in June 1996. The International Seabed Authority has number of organs: Assembly, Council, Legal and Technical Commission, Finance Committee and the Secretariat.

1.4. Hypotheses

- International Sea Bed Authority evolved as an autonomous body within the UNCLOS 1982 for the common welfare of the developing states.  Exploration and exploitation of living and non-living natural resources beyond the national jurisdiction accelerates the economic development of the developing states.

1.5. Methodology

The work involves primary and secondary sources. The primary sources include international conventions, legislative guides, legal principles, etc., (UN Charter; UNCLOS; Draft Convention on State Responsibility; and some case laws of ITLOS, PCIJ, ICJ etc.). The secondary sources include books, journals, and internet sources.

1.6. Chapterization

Chapter 1 sets the background, scope, research questions, hypothesis and methodology of the study.

Chapter 2 briefs the origin and development of the ISA under UNCLOS.

Chapter 3 discusses the role and function of ISA in the Area.

Chapter 4 deals with the affairs of ISA in securing economic interest of the states.

Chapter 5 gives summary and conclusion of the study.


International seabed contained beneath more and more wealth like manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt.6 This is more degree of metals as compared to the land based reserves of metals. Such resource of the international seabed area is called as “common heritage of mankind”. No one could appropriate and no rights at all to acquire it except in conformity with an international regime.7 Technically developed nations are competent to mine such nodules and such source of mineral wealth helps their economic progress. And it gives great disadvantage to the developing nations specifically those who depend upon the export earnings of few categories of minerals.8

In such a situation, UN had adopted the General Assembly Resolution 2574 (XXIV) in the year 1969 as an emergency measure to regulate deep seabed activities. Later on in 1970 a Declaration of Principles Governing the Seabed and Ocean Floor and the Subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (based on the GA Res. 2749 XXVI) was adopted which provided that the Area of international seabed and its resources are the “common heritage of mankind”. However, the landlocked states in the UN were expected for the adoption of separate Convention and establishment of Autonomous bodies to regulate and administer the activities carried out in the seabed and subsoil of the high seas. For the aforesaid purpose, the Resolution calls the Seabed Committee to act as Preparatory Committee for future conference.9

2.1. Preliminary Consideration of UNCLOS 1982

The concept of common heritage of mankind had never been discussed before in any international forum until it was referred to in the 19th century, by the president of the First Law of Sea Conference held in 1958, in his speech. Subsequently, General Assembly had adopted its first discussion about the concept of “common heritage of mankind” in the year 1967 by preserving the seabed and ocean floor exclusively for peaceful purposes. It led to begin the new regime for it. The item perceived in the first committee of General Assembly was basically related to political significance and not limited to legal or economic concern. As such, the UNCLOS III is based on package concept which was the work of the 1958 Conference and not on the basis of Draft Articles prepared by the International Law Commission.10

Adhoc Committee was established by the General Assembly to work on the basis of consensus and to study the peaceful uses of the seabed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction which develop the concept of package. Later on a Standing Committee was established for the purpose of shaping and refining the ideas and concepts pertaining to the peaceful uses of the seabed and ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. However, the said concept of common heritage of mankind was adopted in the subsequent General Assembly Resolutions 2749 (XXIV) in which Declaration of Principles were adopted and reads that: “The seabed, ocean floor, and the subsoil thereof, beyond the limits of national jurisdiction as well as the resources of the Area, are the “common heritage of mankind” and shall not be subject to appropriation by any means by states or persons". In addition, it was declared that this Area shall be opened to use exclusively for peaceful purposes by states.

Further the General Assembly had adopted three part Resolution which provides that the problems of ocean space are closely inter-related and need to be considered as a whole. “Noting that the political and economic realties, scientific development and rapid technological advances of the last decade, have accentuated the need for early and progressive development of the Law of the Sea in a framework of close international co-operation”.

Having regard to the fact that many of the present state members of the United Nations did not take part in the previous United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. Consequently Seabed Committee became the Preparatory Committee for future conference. In the General Assembly Resolution 3067 (XXVIII), the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea was convened in 1973. Rules of Procedure and the Gentleman's Agreement appended to them were adopted in this Conference that lead to the progressive development in the treaty making process. Consensus occupied principal place in the Conference which had been useful before any voting on questions of substance can take place. The aforesaid Conference with ninety weeks work had come to the conclusion on 23rd April 1982 in which the efforts to reach consensus had been exhausted in accordance with its Rules of Procedure. On 10th December 1982, the UNCLOS was opened for signature in Montego Bay, Jamaica. This marked the culmination of over 14 years of work involving participation by more than 150 countries. It came into force with 320 Articles with Nine Annexures and divided into 17 Parts, governing all aspects of Ocean Space from delimitation.11

2.2. The Convention and Its Public Affairs

This Convention had been participated by more than 150 countries representing all regions of the world, all legal and political systems, all degrees of socio-economic development, countries with various dispositions regarding the kind of minerals that can be found in the seabed, coastal states, states described as geographically disadvantaged with regard to ocean space, archipelagic states, island states and landlocked states.

The Conventions itself establishes a comprehensive framework for the regulation of all ocean space. It contains provisions as to limit the national jurisdiction over ocean space, access to the seas, navigation, protection and preservation of the marine environment, exploitation of living resources and conservation, scientific research, seabed mining and other exploitation of non-living resources and the settlement of disputes. In addition, it established new International Bodies to carry out functions for the realization of specific objectives.

It may be stated that the provisions contained in this Convention are considered as International Affairs. Because it allows the coastal states to manage and conserve the biological and mineral resources within their national jurisdiction; allows the new regime of archipelagic waters to the archipelagic states: allows the landlocked states to enter into an agreement with transit state that would grant them transit to and from the sea and rights of access to the living resources of their neighboring states; allows some industrialized nations to have access to the seabed mineral resources beyond national jurisdiction within a predictable legal framework; allows the countries that produced the same minerals in territories granted assurances that the seabed production of these minerals would not undermine their economies or result in a de-facto monopoly; puts the marine science and technology at the service of all nations and not only of a limited number of very wealthy countries.

By this way the Convention gives way to the developing countries to the acquisition of new knowledge of the oceans; ensures the states bordering straits that free passage would not result in damage to their marine environment or threats to their national security; practically allows all nations to preserve freedom of navigation, commerce and communication; and finally it ensure to mankind as a whole that a new legal regime will safeguard the marine environment against depredation or irrational use of non-renewable resources, the discharge or dumping of noxious substances into the oceans or the so-called scientific tests that could affect the delicate balance of marine life. An examination of these provisions reveal that the Convention not only governs the interests of developing (whether landlocked and geographically disadvantaged) states but also governs the interests of other states in the seabed and ocean floor.12

The Convention contributes the codification of customary norms, progressive development of international law and contains constituent instruments of two major new international organisation13 such as International Seabed Authority is to regulate the seabed activities on the high seas and ocean floor and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is to settle the disputes arose between the member countries.

2.3. History of International Seabed Authority

Increasing participation of states for the exploitation of seabed resources beyond national jurisdiction appalled Ambassador Arvid Pardo of Malta to consider the limits of national jurisdiction in 1967. He recommended that an international regime and machinery be created to exploit the resources of the seabed which lie beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. These proposals made by him were more effective. A similar suggestion to create an authority was made to the International Law Commission in 1950 by one of its members but the International Law Commission did not react to it as it was thought that the proposal was taught with “insurmountable difficulties.14

However, the General Assembly constituted a United Nations Seabed Committee to consider Ambassador Pardo’s proposal. Eventually the General Assembly passed a Resolution in 17th December 1970 (2449 XXVI) “the Declaration of Principles Governing the Seabed and the Ocean Floor and the Subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction”.

This Declaration further strengthened the minds of all people as to its juridical value and the creation of an International Machinery to authorise and control exclusively the exploitation of resources of the international seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

Prior to the convening of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, the Seabed Committee had about 11 separate draft proposals on the International Machinery in 1971. These proposals contained several common elements.

The aforesaid Seabed Committee simultaneously carried out the preparatory work to study the peaceful uses of the seabed and the ocean floor beyond the limits of national jurisdiction (1967-1973). The UNCLOS was adopted later on in 1982 and embodies the new regime for the oceans.15 The convention has been stated as a comprehensive constitution for the oceans.

The objective of the said Convention is to facilitate international co-operation and to promote peaceful uses of the seas and the oceans, the equitable and efficient utilisation of their resources as well as the conservation of their living resources, the protection and preservation of the marine environment and the peaceful resolution of disputes. Further the Convention provides rules for the establishment of three new International Institutions:

1. Commission on the Limits of Continental Shelf to make recommendations on establishing the outer limits of the Continental Shelf when it extends beyond 200 miles;
2. International Seabed Authority to administer the resources of the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction; and
3. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to settle the disputes arising out of the interpretation of application of the Convention.

Further the UNCLOS 1982 established a Preparatory Commission under its Resolution I to prepare the rules and regulations, procedures, administrative and institutional structures and other necessary requirements for the above said International Institutions as an interim measures to ensure that the ISA and ITLOS to function effectively upon the entry into force of this Convention.

2.3.1. Preparatory Commission

Membership of Preparatory Commission for International Seabed Authority (ISA) and International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is open to all states and entities that have signed the Final Act of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, in accordance with its rules of procedure. The Preparatory Commission commenced its function in its first session on 15th March 1983 in Kingston, Jamaica. It consists of the Plenary (Principal Organ), General Committee (Bureau) and Four Special Commissions of equal status as its organs for the performance of its functions.

Under the provisions of Resolution I, functions includes: (1) Preparing the rules of procedure and regulations of the organs of ISA; (2) Making recommendations concerning the financial regulations and the budget for the Authority; (3) Making recommendations concerning the Secretariat of the Authority in accordance with relevant provisions of the Convention; (4) Elaborating the rules for the exploitation and exploration of the polymetallic nodules in the International Seabed Area, the so- called mining code; (5) Making recommendations concerning the practical arrangements for establishment of the ITLOS; and (6) Undertaking studies and making recommendations concerning remedial measures to assist developing land based producer states likely to be most seriously affected by the production of seabed minerals.

1. Special Commission-I dealing with the problems that could be encountered by developing land based producer states likely to be most seriously affected by the production of minerals derived from the International Seabed Area.
2. Special Commission-II dealing with the adoption of all measures necessary to early entry into effective operation of the enterprise, the operational organ of the International Seabed Authority.
3. Special Commission-III is for the preparation of rules of procedure for the 9 exploration and exploitation of the International Seabed Authority.
4. Special Commission-IV is to prepare recommendations regarding practical arrangements for the establishment of ITLOS.

The other subsidiary bodies established by commission for the effective exercise of its function.16

2.3.2. Establishment of the Authority

The establishment of the Authority has been made under Section 4(A) of General Provisions. Article 156 of the Convention 1982 states that: (1) there is hereby established the International Seabed Authority, which shall function in accordance with this part; (2) all state parties are ipso facto members of the Authority; (3) observes at the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea who have signed the final Act and who are not referred to in Article 305, Paragraph 1(c)(d)(e) and (f), shall have the right to participate in the Authority in accordance with its rules, regulations and procedures; (4) the seat of the authority is in Jamaica; and (5) the Authority established such regional centers or offices as it deems necessary for the exercise of its functions. Therefore it states from the above points that the Authority is an autonomous body.

2.4. Nature and Fundamental Principles of the Authority

The basic principle of the Authority is to carry out its international affairs among the international community under Article 157 as follows:

1. The Authority is the organization through which state parties shall in accordance with its part and organize and control activities in Area, particularly with a view to administering the resources of the Area.
2. The powers and functions of the Authority should be those expressly conferred upon it by this Convention. The Authority should have such incidental powers consistent with this Convention, as are implicit in and necessary for the exercise of those powers and functions with respect to activities in the Area.
3. The Authority is based on the principle of sovereign equality of all its members.
4. All members of the Authority should fulfill in good faith the obligation assumed by them in accordance with this part in order to ensure to all of them the rights and benefits resulting from membership.17

2.5. Organs of the Authority

Article 158 of the UNCLOS 1982 provides the provisions for the establishment of the organs of the Authority:

1. There are hereby established, as the principal organs of the Authority, an assembly, a council and a secretariat.
2. There are hereby established the enterprise, the organ through which the Authority should carry out the functions referred to in Article 170, Para. 1.
3. Such subsidiary organs of the Authority as may be found necessary may be established in accordance with this Part.
4. Each principal organ of the Authority and the enterprise shall be responsible for exercising those powers and functions which are conferred upon it. In exercising such powers and functions each organ shall avoid taking any action which may derogate from or impede the exercise of specific powers and functions conferred upon another organ.18

2.5.1. The Assembly

This is coming under Section 4(b) of General Provisions. The composition, procedure and voting rights of the Assembly are clearly stated in Article 159 of UNCLOS 1982.

a. Composition: (i) All members of the Authority are the members of the Assembly; and (ii) Each member shall have one representatives who may be accompanied by alternates and advisers.

b. Procedure: (i) Majority members should constitute a quorum. The Assembly should have convened once in a year by the Secretary General; and (ii) It should elect its president in each session, he should hold its office until a new president and adopt its own rules of procedure.

c. Voting: (i) Each member should have one vote. Decisions on the questions of procedure should be taken by a majority of the members present and voting;

(ii) Decisions on the questions of substance should be taken by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting; and (iii) The members may submit their written request to the president of the Assembly on any matter to get the advisory opinion from the Seabed Disputes Chamber of ITLOS.

2.5.2. The Council

Article 161 of the UNCLOS 1982 provides the provisions with regard to composition, procedure and voting of the Council. Indeed, it is coming under Section 4 of General Provisions.

a. Composition: The Council should consist of 36 members of the Authority elected by the Assembly in the following order: (i) Four members from among those state parties who have either consumed or imported more than 2% of total world consumption or imports of commodities of minerals in any case one state from the Eastern European (Socialist) region, as well as largest consumer; (ii) Four members from among state parties which have the largest investments; (iii) Four members from among state parties which on the basis of production are major net exporters of minerals including at least two developing states; (iv) Six members from among developing state parties, representing special interests. Developing states include least developed states and landlocked or geographically disadvantaged states; and (v) Eighteen members elected on the basis of equitable geographical distribution such as Africa, Asia, Eastern European and others.
b. Procedure: (i) The geographically disadvantaged states, landlocked states and coastal developing states are represented to a degree which is reasonably proportionate to their representation in the Assembly; (ii). Each group of state parties are represented by the member of that group; (iii) Members are elected for four years and at the first election, the term for one half of the members is 2 years. They are eligible for re-election; and (iv) Council should meet not less than thrice in a year for the business of Authority may require and majority shall constitute a quorum.
c. Voting: (i) Each member shall have one vote; (ii) Decision on questions of procedure shall be taken by a majority of the members present and voting; (iii) Decisions on questions of substance shall be taken in accordance with provisions respectively by two third and three fourth majority of the members present and voting, by consensus and by the rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority as the case may be; and (iv) Non-member should be entitled to participate in the deliberation but not to vote. In the election of the members of the Council, the Authority has given much more importance to the least developed states, landlocked states and geographically disadvantaged states for their common welfare and their development. It clearly indicates the International Public Affairs of the International Seabed Authority for the promotion of common welfare of the least developed states, landlocked states and geographically disadvantaged states (developing states).
d. Organs of the Council: There are hereby established two commissions as important organs of the Council under Article 163 of the Convention 1982: (i) An Economic Planning Commission; and (ii) A Legal and Technical Commission. Each Commission shall be composed of 15 members in which at least two from the developing states are mandatory.

2.5.3. The Secretariat

It is coming under Section 4(D) of General Provisions of UNCLOS 1982. It relates to Article 166 under which: (1) The Secretariat of the Authority should comprised a Secretary General and such other states; (2) He shall be elected for four years by the Assembly from among the candidates proposed by the Council and may be re-elected;

(3) He is the Chief-administrative Officer of the Authority, the principal and other subsidiary organs and he holds the meetings of all organs; (4) He should make an annual report to the Assembly on the work of the Authority; and (5) Such other staffs should be appointed by him in accordance with the terms and conditions on which they shall be appointed.19

2.5.4. The Enterprise

This is an important organ of the Authority for the performance of its activities in the Seabed Area and the Authority distributes the benefits arising from it among the states (specifically to the developing states) in equitable manner for their development. This organ is coming under the General Provisions of Section 4 of Sub-section E. Article 170 of UNCLOS 1982 states that

1. The Enterprise is an important organ of the Authority which should carry out activities in the Area directly, pursuant to Article 153(2)(a), as well as the transporting, processing and marketing minerals recovered from the Area.
2. The Enterprise should, within the framework of the international legal personality of the Authority, have such legal capacity as is provided for in the statute set forth in Annexure IV. The Enterprise should act in accordance with this Convention and the rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority, as well as the general policies established by the Assembly, and should be subject to the directions and control of the Council.
3. The Enterprise has its principal place of business at the seat of the Authority; and 4. The Enterprise should, in accordance with Article 173, Paragraph 2, and Annexure IV, Article 11, be provided with such funds as it may require to carry out its functions, and should receive technology as provided in Article 144 and other relevant provisions of the Convention.20

2.6. International Fund

International Fund should include under Article 171 of the Convention 1982 that: (1) Assessed contributions made by members of the Authority in accordance with Article 160, Paragraph 2(e); (2) Funds received by the Authority pursuant to Annexure III, Article 13, in connection with activities in the Area; (3) Funds transferred from the Enterprise in accordance with Annexure IV, Article 10; (4) Funds borrowed pursuant to Article 174; (5) Voluntary contributions made by members or other entities; and (6) Payments to a compensation fund, in accordance with Article 151, Paragraph 10, whose sources are to be recommended by the Economic Planning Commission. International Fund included in the financial arrangements of the Authority under Section 4.21

International Fund may be used for the development of developing states after payment of administrative expenses in accordance with Article 151, Paragraph 10 and Article 160, Paragraph 2(1)(g) and Article 140. The distribution of International Fund comes under Article 173 as expenses of the Authority.22

2.7. Legal Status, Privileges and Immunities

The Authority should have international legal personality under Article 176 and such legal capacity as may be necessary for the exercise of its functions and the fulfilment of its purposes.23

To enable the Authority to exercise its functions, it should enjoy in the territory of each state party, the privileges and immunities set forth in this sub-section. The privileges and immunities relating to the Enterprise should be those set forth in Annexure IV, Article 13.

2.8. International Public Affairs of the Authority

Article 150 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982 deals with the international public affairs of the Authority. The public affairs of the Authority in the Area of the Seabed and Ocean floor of the high seas provided specifically in this part, should be carried out for the healthy production and development of the world economy and balanced growth of international trade and to promote international cooperation for the overall development of all countries, especially developing states (lease developed and landlocked states), and with a view to ensuring:

1. The development of the resources of the Area;
2. Orderly, safe and rational management of the resources of the Area, and in accordance with the sound principles of conservation, the avoidance of unnecessary waste;
3. The expansion of opportunities for participation in such activities consistent in particular with Articles 144 and 148;
4. Participation in revenues by the Authority and the transfer of technology to the enterprise and developing states as provided in this Convention;
5. Increased availability of mineral derived from the Area as needed in conjunction with minerals derived from other sources, to ensure supplies to consumers of such minerals;
6. The promotion of just and stable prices remunerative to producers and fair to consumers for minerals derived from the area and from other sources, and the promotion of long term equilibrium between supply and demands;
7. The enhancement of opportunities of all state parties, irrespective of social and economic systems or geographical location, to participate in the development of the resources of the Area and the prevention of monopolization of activities in the Area;
8. The protection of developing countries from adverse effects on their economics or on their export earnings resulting from a reduction in the prices often affected mineral, (or in the volume of exports of that mineral) to the extent that such reduction is caused by activities in the Area, as provided in Article 151;
9. The development of the common heritage for the benefit of mankind as a whole;
10. Conditions of access to market for the imports of minerals produced from the resources of the Area and for imports of commodity produced from such minerals shall not be more favourable than the most favourable applied to imports from other sources.

In the formation of aforesaid policies of the Authority relating to the public affairs in the area of seabed and ocean floor of high seas, the Authority has given much more importance in the economic development of developing countries under Article 150(d) and (h). It is also considered as main objectives of the Authority for the development of the resources of the Area under Section 3.

In order to achieve the aforesaid objectives set forth in Article 150 of UNCLOS 1982, the Authority should follow the under mentioned production policies for the promotion of common welfare of states (especially developing states) with regard to consumption or production of minerals derived from the Area. The largest consumer state (i.e. more than 2% of total world consumption or have had net imports of more than 2% of total world imports of the commodities produced from the categories of minerals to be derived from the Area) they will become the member of the Council of Authority and may enjoy and exercise the rights and privileges of the membership. It shall have access to the development of the developing countries.

Therefore the production policies of the Authority are:

1. It is the principal policy of the Authority and the Authority should take measures necessary to promote the growth, efficiency, stability of markets, for those commodities produced from the minerals derived from the Area, at prices remuneration to producers and fair to consumers. The Authority should make the implementation of Para (h) of Article 150 of the Convention by the adoption of the aforesaid measures and acting through existing Forums or such new arrangement or agreements as may be appropriate, in which all interested parties (including both producers and consumers) participate, without prejudice to the other objectives mentioned in Article 150 of the Convention except Para (h).
2. The Authority should have the right to participate in any commodity conference dealing with those commodities and in which all interested parties (including both the producers and consumers) participate. The Authority should have the right to become a party to any arrangement or agreement resulting from such conferences. Participation of the Authority in any organs established under those arrangements or agreements should be in respect of production in the Area and in accordance with the relevant rules of those organs.
3. The Authority should carry out its obligations under the arrangements or agreements in a manner which assures a uniform and nondiscriminatory implementation in respect of all production in the Area of the minerals concerned. In doing so, the Authority shall act in a manner consistent with the terms of existing contract and approved plans of work of the enterprise.
4. During the interim period commercial production should not be undertaken pursuant to an approved plan of work until the operator has applied for and has been issued a production authorization by the Authority. Such production authorization may not be applied for or issued more than five years prior to the planned commencement of commercial production under the plan of work unless, having regard to the nature and timing of project development, the rules, regulations and procedures of the Authority prescribed another period.
5. In the application for the production authorization, the operator should specify the annual quantity of Nickel expected to be recovered under the approved plan of work. The application should include a schedule of expenditures to be made by the operator after he has received the authorization which are reasonably calculated to allow him to begin commercial production on the date planned.
6. For the purposes of the para (4) and (5) the Authority should establish appropriate performances, requirements, as detailed in the Annexure III Article 17.


1 The major wealth especially in seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil are nickel, cobalt, copper, manganese, etc.

2 The developed countries are more technologically advanced, hence the least developed states and not even the developing states can compete in the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the Area.

3 Article 1 of the UN Charter elaborates the public affairs of the United Nations Organization. It says that object of the UN is (i) to maintain international peace and security and to take effective measures for the prevention and removal of threat to the peace, breach of peace, and act of aggression, and settle the international disputes (or situations that might lead to a breach of peace) by peaceful means in conformity with the principles of justice; (ii) to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of people and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace; (iii) to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural or humanitarian character and in promoting encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion; and (iv) to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends. Malcom N Shaw, International Law, 5th edn, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 560-561. These public affairs have often been carried out by the UN through its principal organs mentioned under Article 7 of the UN Charter and through their subsidiary organs. International Seabed Authority acts as a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly.

4 To regulate and administer the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil, the UN has convened number of conferences and adopted UNCLOS I in 1958 (Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone; Convention on the High Seas; Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas; Convention on the Continental Shelf; Optional Protocol of Signature Concerning the Compulsory Settlement of Disputes), UNCLOS II in 1960 and UNCLOS III in 1982. Article 1 of the UNCLOS 1982 defines ‘the Area’ that ‘seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond national jurisdiction’. This would start at the outer edge of the continental margin or at least at a distance of 200 nautical miles from the baselines.

5 Article 156 of the UNCLOS 1982 establishes the International Seabed Authority (ISA) and International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS). For the operation of the ISA and the ITLOS, a Preparatory Commission was established under the UNGA Resolution I of the Conference. The Authority, which has its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, came into existence on 16 November 1994,

6 Approximately 175 billion dry tones of mineable manganese nodules are in existence in which 15% of the seabed was dispersed.

7 Malcolm N. Shaw, International Law, 5th ed. Cambridge 2003, pp. 560 and 562.

8 Ibid., p. 561.

9 The Law of the Sea, Official Text of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea with Annexures and Index, Final Act of Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea, Introductory Material on the Convention and the Conference 1982, United Nations, New York, p. XXII.

10 Ibid.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 Ibid.

14. P.S. Rao, Structure and Powers of the International Seabed Authority” edited in R.P. Anand, Law of the Sea Caracas and Beyond, Radiant Publishers.

15 The formation of this Convention was the result of seven years of preparation and nine years of negotiations.

16 The Law of the Sea Preparatory Commission for the International Seabed Authority and for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Documents, Vol. I, First Session, 1983, Kingston 15th March-8th April 1983 (preface).

17 Myron H. Nordquist (ed.), UNCLOS 1982: A Commentary Volume I.

18 Ibid.

19 Ibid.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid.

22 Ibid.

23 Ibid.

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Public Affairs of International Seabed Authority
A Critical Analysis
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Law of the Sea, Authority, International, Affairs, Public, Politics, ISA, Wealth, Seas, Seabed
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Thangarekha P.R. (Author), 2015, Public Affairs of International Seabed Authority, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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