Article 154: Periodic Review of the International Seabed Authority

Article 154 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea requires the Assembly of the Authority, every five years from the entry into force of the Convention, to undertake a general and systemic review of the manner in which the Authority has operated in practice and to recommend measures which will lead to the improvement of its operation. 

In  his  annual  report  for  the  twentieth  session  of  the International Seabed Authority in 2014, the Secretary-General drew the attention of member States to the provisions of article 154 of the United Nations Convention on the  Law  of  the  Sea (ISBA/21/A/4).  

In  the  light  of: (a)  growing  interest  in  the  development  of marine minerals in the deep seabed, both within the limits of national jurisdiction and in the Area; (b) the increased workload of the secretariat, in particular in the areas  of  contract  administration  and supervision;  (c)  the  need  to  acquire  further baseline environmental data for the lesser known deposits of polymetallic sulphides and cobalt-rich  ferromanganese  crusts,  including  the  use  of  standardized taxonomies;  and  (d)  the  need  to  make  progress  on  the development  of  an appropriate fiscal regime that would allow those contractors in a position to do so to proceed  to  exploitation,  while  at the  same  time  safeguarding  the  interests  of  the members  of  the  Authority  as  a  whole,  the  Secretary-General  noted  that  the Assembly may wish to take the opportunity to undertake a general and systematic review of the manner in which the international regime for the Area has operated in practice (ISBA/20/A/2, para. 93).

The Authority undertook its first review with the appointment of a Review Committee by the Assembly of the Authority. The review committee comprises the Presidents of the Assembly and Council for 2015,  the Bureau of the Assembly,  with  the  then President  of  the Assembly ( Ambassador Helmut Tuerk) remaining a member of the committee until the completion of the review. The Chairs of the regional groups also participated as observers.

In January 2016, the Review Committee appointed Seascape Consultants Ltd, a UK-based consultancy firm to assist the Committee to conduct the review by carrying out a background study according to the terms of reference agreed by the Assembly.

At its 22nd Session in July 2016, an interim report by the Consultants was made available to member States of the Authority together with an interim report by the Review Committee, the Legal and Technical Commission and the Finance Committee. The reports are listed below:

In its decision dated 21 July 2016 (ISBA/22/A/11) the Assembly took note of the interim report and comments and decided to provide States parties, observers and stakeholders a further opportunity to submit written observations by a 15 October 2016 deadline. Following that, the consultants are expected to revise the interim report taking into account observations made in the Assembly by 15 January 2017. That draft report will be discussed by the Review committee and finalized for presentation to States parties before 15 April 2017.