International Seabed Authority

Seabed and International Seabed Authority

Part XI regulates activities on the seabed and ocean floor and its subsoil beyond the limits of national jurisdiction. It establishes the international seabed authority, an international organization through which the states parties to UNCLOS can organize and control seabed activities, with a particular focus on administering resources beneath the sea floor.

Seabed regime is applied beyond the 200nm EEZ limit and thus overlapped with those areas of continental shelf extending beyond that limit.

The institutional underpinning of the regime relating to the resources of the Area was to be the International Seabed Authority, of which all states parties are ipso facto members, which is empowered to organize and control activities in the Area (article 157).

The regime for the development of the seabed has following elements:

  1. It purported to establish an erga omnes regime, that is no one could claim sovereignty over any part of the area and its resources.
  2. Activities in the area are to be organized and controlled exclusively by the authority and carried out for the benefit of mankind.
  3. Exploration and exploitation of the area would involve parallel activities by the Enterprise (an organ of the authority) and by operators
  4. The authority is required to provide for the equitable sharing of the economic benefits of activities in the area. (while keeping special interest of developing states at the centre)

However this ambitious plan did not work out.

So, in 1994 the General Assembly adopted the Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI (Deep Seabed Agreement) thereby allowing UNCLOS to enter into force in amended form. According to article 2 the UNCLOS and Deep Seabed Agreement are to be interpreted and applied together as a single instrument.

The amended seabed regime

10 operative provisions

Mostly of procedural nature

Provisions regarding the operation of the Authority

In 2000 the authority adopted the Regulation on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area (RPNM) – Mining Code

In 2010, the Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Sulphides was adopted.