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The International Seabed Authority (ISA) is an autonomous international organization established under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1994 Agreement).
ISA is the organization through which States Parties to UNCLOS organize and control all mineral-resources-related activities in the Area for the benefit of mankind as a whole. In so doing, ISA has the mandate to ensure the effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects that may arise from deep-seabed related activities.
ISA which has its headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica, came into existence on 16 November 1994, upon the entry into force of UNCLOS. ISA became fully operational as an autonomous international organization in June 1996, when it took over the premises and facilities in Kingston, Jamaica previously used by the United Nations Kingston Office for the Law of the Sea.
In accordance with article 156 (2) of UNCLOS, all States Parties to UNCLOS are ipso facto members of ISA. As of 1 May 2020, ISA has 168 members, including 167 member States and the European Union.
The Area and its resources are the common heritage of mankind. The Area covers around 54 per cent of the total area of the world’s oceans.