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UN CONVENTION ON THE LAW OF THE SEA

Under the terms of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority (ISBA) held its inaugural session in Kingston, Jamaica, from 16-18 November 1994. The meeting, which was attended by 80 member and 17 observer countries, served as both a commemoration of the long and eventually successful negotiations to achieve a widely accepted Law of the Sea treaty and as the initiation of the ISBA as the organization that will oversee activities related to the exploration and exploitation of the resources of the deep seabed. Discussions regarding the implementation of the Convention in other areas continued informally, particularly with regard to the establishment of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The November meeting did not grapple with either procedural or substantive issues. Instead, it provided an opportunity for Parties to express their views on both the past and the future. There was universal acceptance of the agreement opened for signature in July 1994, that modified the provisions of the Convention with regard to the deep seabed. This agreement substantially revised the seabed provisions of the Convention and many countries, both developed and industrialized, felt it necessary to reconfirm support for it.

On the Monday following the ISBA session, Parties to the Convention and signatories to the July agreement met in New York to address the creation of the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea. The parties agreed, in light of the fact that many countries are still in the ratification process, to postpone the appointment of members of the Tribunal until 1996.