19 June 2015
Source: High Seas Alliance
A landmark resolution was adopted earlier today by a consensus of UN member states, to develop a legally-binding treaty for the conservation of marine life beyond national territorial waters – that area of the ocean shared by all. Resolution UNGA 99/292 formalizes the recommendations made last January by the UN Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group (“UN Working Group”) which was tasked with assessing the feasibility of a new treaty, and signals a major step forward toward convening an intergovernmental negotiating conference that would finalize the terms of the new treaty, possibly in 2018.
Leading to the January 2015 recommendations, the UN Working Group convened a series of meetings since 2006 to explore issues related to ocean governance in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Some of the current gaps identified and that could be addressed by this treaty would include a framework for establishing a system of marine protected areas and parks, as well as the harmonized prior assessment of impacts from the many new and emerging activities taking place in the high seas.
This long-awaited resolution references in its preamble the commitment made by Heads of State at the Rio+20 Conference to take a decision by September 2015 on a new instrument, and also “stresses the need for the comprehensive global regime to better address the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.”