As an IAS aspirant, are you keen to know India’s role in the Current Scenario of the UN international seabed authority? Let’s discuss the overview of the international seabed authority.
What is the International Seabed Authority (ISA)?
The International Seabed Authority is an autonomous international institution formed under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the ‘Law of the Sea’. However, again in 1994, another agreement was formed relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the ‘Law of the Sea’ (1994 Agreement). ISA is the institution through which Parties to UNCLOS design and control all the mineral-related resources activities in the area. The ISA has the authority to ensure the protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that arise from deep-seabed related activities. ISA became operational as an autonomous international institution in June 1996 and has 168 members, including the European Union.
Function of ISA
ISA aims to organise, regulate, and control all marine mineral-related activities in the international seabed area. The main functions of ISA under the convention and implementation agreement are:
#1. To administer the mineral resources of ISA known as the heritage of mankind.
#2. To follow set rules, regulations, and procedures for conducting activities in the area.
#3. To promote and engage in marine scientific research in the area.
#4. To conserve and protect the natural resources of the seabed, and at the same time prevent damage to flora and fauna within the seabed.
India as a Member of ISA
India actively participates in the work of the International Seabed Authority. India was re-elected as a member of ISA the previous year. France has recently become a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Association on 18th December 2020.
Activities of ISA
The main activity of ISA is to regulate the exploration of poly-metallic nodules. These nodules contain various amounts of manganese, cobalt, copper and nickel. The nodule is spread between the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. In 2002, the ISA began its work for the exploration of poly-metallic sulfides and other minerals such as copper, iron, zinc, and gold.
The minerals are found around hot springs, the western Pacific Ocean, and the crust in several locations around the world. The ISA in 2006 prepared sets of regulations for sulphides and crusts.
An IAS candidate must know about all the issues internal and external to administer the country well. However, the topic, International seabed in UPSC exam, is of utmost importance. The IAS aspirants should have clear concepts about the seabed.
Governing Bodies of ISA
The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is headquartered in Kingston, Jamaica. It has 167 members, including the European Union. The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is governed and controlled by the following bodies:
Assembly of ISA
Assembly considered the supreme authority of ISA, consists of all ISA members. The assembly is responsible for forming general policies and budgets for ISA.
ISA elects the executive authority of ISA, which consists of a 36-member council. It is also responsible for approving contracts with private corporations and government entities. These contracts consist of exploration and mining in the specified areas of the international seabed.
The council appoints the secretary-general of the ISA and by the assembly for four years. The current secretary-general of ISA is Michael W. Lodge.
The Finance Committee has to deal with budget-related matters. This committee also consists of the Legal and Technical Commission that has 30 members. These members control the Council and Finance Committee. The Government appoints all members who are experts in this field.
India’s Context with ISA
The right of exploring poly-metallic nodules in the Indian Ocean basin for five years is applicable for India. ISA provides the right for exploration for seabed to India for development activities. India is implementing a long-term programme on an exploration through the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The United Nations has started speaking on the 2020 treaty that would regulate high seas against adequate environmental protection. Countries can protect up to 200 nautical miles, beyond which is International waters. UNCLOS defines the activities in international waters, but it does not specify the way of conservation.
This UN International Seabed Authority (ISA) is vital for UPSC aspirants for keeping track of current affairs and any development in the world. AS per the latest report, no mining has been initiated in the world. Currently, exploration activities are going on in the seabed area for gathering information on the quality of minerals. Only thirteen countries and one intergovernmental consortium have contracts for the exploration of poly-metallic nodules. Mining code is on the formation, and the completion will provide a holistic regulation and framework for the exploration of resources in the area.
Aim of ISA
ISA at the 2017 UN Conference on Oceans aimed to achieve goals and targets by the end of the 2030 Agenda. These goals include enhancing the role of women in research work, promoting scientific research in the water beds, enhancing the socio-economic benefits for SIDS, and supporting Africa’s Blue Economy. The benefits of deep-seabed exploration are more than knowledge of the mineral resources, but it also includes scientific information of the marine environment.
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