The report provides an overview of the progress made by ISA since July 2022 to implement its unique and multifaceted mandate to manage marine mineral resources sustainably, on the basis of equality between States and for the benefit of all humanity.
The report also presents an update on the status of implementation of the ISA strategic directions as set out in the first ISA Strategic Plan for 2019-2023.
The year 2023 offers the opportunity to reflect on the achievements of the current strategic plan and adopt a new plan for the next five years. Most strategic directions stem directly from the mandate ISA has under UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement. We may expect, therefore, a degree of continuity and the opportunity to consolidate and build upon the achievements of the past four years. It will be important, nevertheless, to balance the need for continuity with the evolutionary approach, as reflected in the 1994 Agreement.
In presenting the 2023 Annual Report to you, I wish to express my sincere thanks to the staff of the Secretariat, without whom none of the activities described in this report could have taken place.
Mr. Michael W. Lodge
About this report
The Secretary-General Annual Report is presented in two parts. A first part (ISBA/28/A/2) has been published as an official document of the Assembly and reports on the status of UNCLOS and related legal instruments, the status of contributions to the budget of ISA and the status of the Area. The report also summarizes the outcomes of the previous session of ISA. This first part also contains a review of the status of implementation of ISA Strategic Plan 2019-2023, its related performance indicators and the status of the high-level actions and associated outputs assigned to the secretariat under the ISA High-Level Action Plan, adopted by the Assembly in 2019.
The second part of this report has been issued in a graphical format and is subtitled “Just and equitable management of the common heritage of humankind”. It documents all the activities of ISA between July 2022 and June 2023. The graphical report will be available in the working languages of ISA: English and French.
ISBA/28/A/2 and the graphical report should be read together.
ISA at a glance
ISA is an autonomous international organization, part of the United Nations common system, that was established in 1982 under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the subsequent Agreement relating to the implementation of Part XI of UNCLOS (1994 Agreement).
UNCLOS set aside the Area – defined as the seabed and ocean floor and subsoil thereof beyond the limits of national jurisdiction – and its mineral resources as the common heritage of humankind.
Under UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement, ISA is designated as the organization through which States Parties to UNCLOS organize and control activities in the Area. Thus, ISA has the exclusive mandate to manage the Area and the minerals it contains for the benefit of humankind on the basis of the principles set out in UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement.
In pursuance of this exclusive mandate, the responsibilities and associated competences assigned to ISA by UNCLOS and the 1994 Agreement include:
- regulate the conduct of all activities of exploration for and exploitation of deep-sea minerals in the Area, including taking necessary measures to ensure effective protection of the marine environment from harmful effects which may arise from such activities
- distribute to States Parties payments or in-kind contributions derived from the exploitation of non-living resources of the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles
- promote and encourage marine scientific research concerning the Area and its resources, as well as coordinate and disseminate the results of research and analysis when available, with particular emphasis on research related to the environmental impact of activities in the Area
- organize the transfer of technology and build the capacity of developing and technologically less advanced States.