After more than a decade of negotiations, the countries of the United Nations have agreed the first ever treaty to protect the world's oceans that lie outside national boundaries. Already being referred to as the ‘High Seas Treaty’, the legal framework would place 30 per cent of the world’s oceans into protected areas, put more money into marine conservation, and covers access to and use of marine genetic resources.
After more than a decade of negotiations, the countries of the United Nations have agreed the first ever treaty to protect the world's oceans that lie outside national boundaries.
The historic treaty is crucial for enforcing the 30x30 pledge made by countries at the UN biodiversity conference in December, to protect a third of the sea (and land) by 2030. Without a treaty this target would certainly fail, as until now no legal mechanism existed to set up marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas.
Covering almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries, the treaty will provide a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of wildlife and share out the genetic resources of the high seas. It will establish a conference of the parties (Cop) that will meet periodically and enable member states to be held to account on issues such as governance and biodiversity.
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- Countries agree on historic oceans treaty to protect the high seas by Laura Paddison (CNN, March 6, 2023)
- High seas treaty: historic deal to protect international waters finally reached at UN by Karen McVeigh (The Guardian, March 5, 2023)
- UN delegates reach historic agreement on protecting marine biodiversity in international waters (UN News, 5 March 2023)
- What is the UN High Seas Treaty and why is it needed? by Esme Stallard (BBC News, March 5, 2023)
- Treaty Negotiations: Follow the IGC Negotiations Treaty Tracker! (High Seas Alliance)