World’s first treaty to protect the high seas

Current Affairs, Environment & Ecology

Why in News:

The United Nations (UN) has announced the adoption of the world’s first international treaty aimed at safeguarding the high seas and preserving marine biodiversity in international waters. This milestone achievement comes after nearly 20 years of dedicated efforts.

Important Points:

  • The High Seas Treaty, also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty, has been approved following an agreement reached by over 100 countries. It marks the culmination of more than 15 years of discussions and five rounds of UN-led negotiations.
  • This historic treaty signifies a renewed commitment by member states to grant the ocean a fighting chance for conservation.
  • The agreement will be open for signature in New York for a two-year period.
  • To take effect, the treaty requires ratification by 60 countries, as per the UN’s statement.
  • It has been developed within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
  • The treaty plays a crucial role in global efforts to protect 30 percent of the world’s land and sea through environmental conservation by the year 2030.
  • Among its key provisions, the legally binding treaty governs the sharing of benefits derived from marine genetic resources beyond national jurisdictions, establishes protected areas in the high seas, and sets up a framework for assessing environmental damage.

Key Highlights of the Treaty:

  • The treaty prioritizes strengthening resilience and includes provisions based on the polluter-pays principle, along with mechanisms for resolving disputes.
  • Parties to the treaty are required to assess potential environmental impacts of any planned activities beyond their jurisdictions.
  • It provides guidance on adopting an integrated approach to ocean management to enhance ecosystem resilience and tackle adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification.
  • The treaty recognizes the rights and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, emphasizes the freedom of scientific research, and emphasizes the need for fair and equitable sharing of benefits.
  • Its objective is to establish large-scale marine protected areas in international waters, effectively safeguarding marine biodiversity in the high seas.
  • A Conference of Parties will be established to oversee and ensure compliance with the terms of the treaty.

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