The Assembly of the Authority, its “supreme organ” with the power to establish general policies, consists of all ISA members. This membership is composed of all parties to the Law of the Sea Convention, numbering 167 States including the European Community as at 31 December 2019.
The Assembly also has the following powers:
- It elects the members of the Council and other bodies, as well as the Secretary-General, who heads the Secretariat;
- It sets the two-year budgets of the Authority as well as the rates by which members contribute towards the budget, based on the assessment scale established by the United Nations for that body’s activities;
- Following adoption by the Council, it approves the rules, regulations and procedures that the Authority may establish from time to time, governing prospecting, exploration and exploitation in the Area. The Assembly took its first such action in 2000 by approving Regulations on Prospecting and Exploration for Polymetallic Nodules in the Area, as drawn up by the Council;
- It examines reports from other bodies, notably the annual report by the Secretary-General on the work of the Authority. This periodic examination gives members the opportunity to comment and make proposals on any aspect of the Authority’s work
The Convention also assigns several other powers to the Authority, which will come into play once deep-sea mineral exploitation gets under way. These include decisions on the equitable sharing of financial and other economic benefits deriving from activities in the Area, and on compensation or other economic adjustments to developing countries whose export earnings from their land-based mineral extraction are diminished by seabed production.