Explained: What Is The UN’s High Seas Treaty?

The United Nations (UN) recently reached an agreement on a new treaty that aims to ensure the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. 

The agreement was reached during the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ), which was held in New York.

The treaty represents a significant step forward in the global effort to protect the ocean’s biodiversity, particularly in areas that are beyond the jurisdiction of individual nations. 

The treaty will apply to areas of the ocean that are beyond national jurisdiction, such as the high seas and the seabed beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.

The UN spearheaded the talks, which involved representatives from various nations. However, the treaty has not been officially accepted yet because its members have not yet ratified it.

Once adopted, the treaty will be legally binding, which means that signatories will be required to comply with its provisions.

What is High Seas Treaty?

BCCL/Representational Image

The High Seas Treaty is a legally binding international agreement being developed within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

It aims to provide a comprehensive legal framework to protect oceans and marine life, particularly in the high seas, which were previously not covered by any such framework. 

The UN treaty on marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction is significant in achieving the 30×30 target set at UN CBD COP15. The countries agreed to protect 30% of oceans by 2030. The treaty aims to conserve and sustainably use marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction, which covers about 64% of the ocean’s surface area. 

By establishing regulations for access and benefit-sharing, environmental impact assessments, and indigenous community consent, the treaty aims to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems, preserve biodiversity, and promote the sustainable use of marine resources.

Although the process of creating the treaty was initiated in 2015, it was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. In order to speed up the finalization of the treaty, the European Union established the High Ambition Coalition on BBNJ in 2022, reports The Hindu.

What are the key features of the treaty?

The establishment of an Access and …


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