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The Common Heritage of Mankind

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

AbstractOne of the key features of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is its recognition that the seabed and its resources beyond national jurisdiction are the common heritage of mankind. Part XI of the Convention gives precise legal meaning to this term. The International Seabed Authority is responsible for implementing the common heritage principle. Since the Authority was established in 1994, a comprehensive legal regime for the Area has been established. Despite initial problems, the international machinery for the administration of this regime is functioning well. The Authority has made good progress, on the basis of the evolutionary approach set out in the 1994 Agreement, in elaborating a regulatory regime for access to the resources of the Area. Much more work remains to be done, however; in particular, if the economic benefits of the common heritage are to be realized.

Affiliations: 1: International Seabed Authority Kingston Jamaica, URL:


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