UN Treaty for high seas
Published: 13 Aug 2018

The UN will begin negotiations between the 4 and 17 September 2018, following a meeting in April 2018 regarding the requirement for a Conservation Treaty for the high seas.  

The high seas are areas of the ocean beyond the control of coastal states. There is little to no legal framework governing the high seas and existing legislation does have gaps. The high seas are outside national jurisdiction that are easy to exploit.  

The oceans provide support for life on Earth and the current initiatives for the oceans are not sufficient to conserve biodiversity. The UN aims to protect marine biodiversity of the high seas in order to relieve the pressure human activities have on the oceans that cause serious harm. The negotiations will be followed by further sessions into the first half of 2020.  

The UN negotiations will focus on:

  • marine genetic resources;
  • area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; 
  • Environmental Impact Assessments; and
  • capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.  

There will also be discussions on the potential establishment for decision-making bodies to support the proposals for the Treaty alongside extending the powers of existing authorities. International and regional management bodies will also be expected to strengthen their governance.  

These meetings arrive after the resolution in 24 December 2017 for an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations: 72/249.