Structure and Mandate of the Council

The first Council of the Authority was elected by the Assembly at the second session of the Authority in March 1996 (Composition of the Council table from 1996-2010).

In accordance with paragraph 15, of section 3, of the annex to the Agreement, the Council shall consist of 36 members elected by the Assembly in the following order:

  • Four members from among those States Parties which, during the last five years for which statistics are available, have either consumed more than 2 per cent in value terms of total world consumption or have had net imports of more than 2 per cent in value terms of total world imports of the commodities produced from the categories of minerals to be derived from the Area, provided that the four members shall include one State from the Eastern European region having the largest economy in that region in terms of gross domestic product and the State, on the date of entry into force of the Convention, having the largest economy in terms of gross domestic product, if such States wish to be represented in this group;
  • Four members from among the eight States Parties which have made the largest investments in preparation for and in the conduct of activities in the Area, either directly or through their nationals;
  • Four members from among States Parties which, on the basis of production in areas under their jurisdiction, are major net exporters of the categories of minerals to be derived from the Area, including at least two developing States whose exports of such minerals have a substantial bearing upon their economies;
  • Six members from among developing States Parties, representing special interests. The special interests to be represented shall include those of States with large populations, States which are land-locked or geographically disadvantaged, island States, States which are major importers of the categories of minerals to be derived from the Area, States which are potential producers for such minerals and least developed States;
  • Eighteen members elected according to the principle of ensuring an equitable geographical distribution of seats in the Council as a whole, provided that each geographical region shall have at least one member elected under this subparagraph. For this purpose, the geographical regions shall be Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Europe and Others.

As “the executive organ of the Authority”, the Council establishes specific policies in conformity with the Convention and the general policies set by the Assembly.  It supervises and coordinates implementation of the elaborate regime established by the Convention to promote and regulate exploration for and exploitation of deep-sea minerals by States, corporations and other entities.  Under this system, no such activity may legally take place until contracts have been signed between each interested entity and the Authority.  The Council’s task is to draw up the terms of contracts, approve contract applications, oversee implementation of the contracts, and establish environmental and other standards.  Its specific functions include the following: 

  • It approves 15-year plans of work in the form of contracts, in which governmental and private entities spell out the mining activities they intend to conduct in precisely defined geographical areas assigned to them.
  • It exercises control over activities in the Area, and supervises and coordinates implementation of the seabed provisions of the Convention.
  • It adopts and applies provisionally, pending approval by the Assembly, the rules, regulations and procedures by which the Authority controls prospecting, exploration and exploitation in the Area.  Its initial set of regulations, adopted by consensus in 2000 and covering prospecting and exploration for polymetallic nodules, is intended as the first part of a mining code that will eventually deal also with exploitation and with other deep-sea mineral resources.  The Council has begun work on a second set of regulations, concerning cobalt crusts and metal-bearing sulphides.
  • In cases where an environmental threat arises from seabed activities, it may issue emergency orders to prevent harm, including orders to suspend or adjust operations.
  • It plays a role in various aspects of the regular functioning of the Authority, for example by proposing candidates for Secretary-General, reviewing and recommending the Authority’s budget for approval by the Assembly, and making recommendations to the Assembly on any policy matter.

The Council will also assume additional responsibilities once deep-sea mining commences in earnest.  These include the issuance of directives to the Enterprise, action (including compensation) to protect land-based mineral producers in the developing countries from adverse economic effects of seabed production, and the establishment of mechanisms for a staff of inspectors who would ensure compliance with the Authority’s regulations and contracts.

At its elections held on 24 July 2014, the Assembly elected the following members of the Council for a four year period as from 1 January 2015, subject to the understandings reached in the regional and interest groups.

These are:

  • Group A: Italy, Russian Federation
  • Group B: France, Germany, Republic of Korea
  • Group C: Austrailia, Chile
  • Group D: Fiji, Jamaica, Lesotho
  • Group E: Cameroon, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Singapore, Tonga
  1. The agreed allocation of seats on the Council is 10 seats to the African Group, 9 seats to the Asian Group, 8 seats to the Western European and Others Group, 7 seats to the Latin American and Caribbean Group and 3 seats to the Eastern European Group. Since the total number of seats allocated according to that formula is 37, it is understood that, in accordance with the understanding reached in 1996 (ISBA/A/L.8), each region group other than the Eastern European Group will relinquish a seat in rotation. The regional group which relinquishes a seat will have the right to designate a member of that group to participate in the deliberations of the Council without the right to vote during the period the regional group relinquishes the seat.
  2. Italy would relinquish its seat in Group A in favour of the United States if the United States became a member of the Authority; this does not prejudice the position of any country with respect to any intervening election to the Council.
  3. Germany is re-elected for a period of four years (2015 - 2018), on the understanding that Belgium will occupy the seat in Group B for the year 2016.
  4. Australia is re-elected for a period of four years (2015 - 2018), on the understanding that in 2017 it will relinquish its seat in Group C to Indonesia. Australia will be a member of Group E in 2017.
  5. Chile is re-elected for a period of four years (2015 - 2018), on the understanding that in 2018 it will relinquish its seat in Group C to Indonesia. Chile will be a member of Group E in 2018.
  6. Indonesia is re-elected to the Council for a period of four years (2015 - 2018) on the understanding that in 2017 it wil relinquish its seat in Group E to Australia and will occupy the seat in Group C relinquished by Australia, and in 2018 Indonesia will relinquish its seat in Group E to Chile and will occupy the seat in Group C relinquished by Chile.

At its elections held on 21 July 2016, the Assembly elected the following members of the Council for a four year period as from 1 January 2017, subject to the understandings reached in the regional and interest groups1 .

These are:

  • Group A:  China, Japan
  • Group B:  India
  • Group C:  Canada, South Africa
  • Group D:  Bangladesh, Brazil, Uganda
  • Group E:  Algeria, Argentina, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Netherlands2, Norway, Panama, Poland, Spain3, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 4
  1. The agreed allocation of seats on the Council is 10 seats to the African Group, 9 seats to the Asian Group, 8 seats to the Western European and Others Group, 7 seats to the Latin American and Caribbean Group and 3 seats to the Eastern European Group. Since the total number of seats allocated according to that formula is 37, it is understood that, in accordance with the understanding reached in 1996 (ISBA/A/L.8), each regional group other than the Eastern European Group will relinquish a seat in rotation. The regional group which relinquishes a seat will have the right to designate a member of that group to participate in the deliberations of the Council without the right to vote during the period the regional group relinquishes the seat.
  2. The Netherlands is elected for a four-year term as a member of group E, on the understanding that it will relinquish its seat after three years to Norway for the remainder of the four-year term (2020).
  3. Spain is elected for a four-year term as a member of group E, on the understanding that it will relinquish its seat after one year to Norway for the year 2018..
  4. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is elected for a four-year term as a member of group E, on the understanding that it will relinquish its seat after two years to Norway for the year 2019.

Current Council Members

Council Composition 1996 - 2020

Council Presidents

Council Rues of Procedures