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United Nations High Seas Treaty


After more than a decade of negotiations, the countries of the United Nations have recently agreed to the High Seas Treaty.


GS II: International Relations

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About UN High Seas Treaty:
  2. What are High Seas?

About UN High Seas Treaty:

  • The UN High Seas Treaty is the first-ever treaty to protect the world’s oceans outside national boundaries.
  • It is also referred to as the ‘Paris Agreement for the Ocean’.
  • The treaty is legally binding and aims to protect marine life in international waters.
  • Its goal is to establish protected areas covering 30% of the seas by 2030, a pledge made by countries at the UN biodiversity conference in 2022.
  • The treaty provides a legal framework for creating marine protected areas (MPAs) to safeguard wildlife and share genetic resources of the high seas.
  • It covers environmental assessments to evaluate potential damage from commercial activities, like deep-sea mining.
  • The treaty establishes a conference of the parties (CoP) that meets periodically to hold member states accountable for governance and biodiversity issues.
  • Signatories of the treaty pledge to share ocean resources.
  • The UN High Seas Treaty is built on the legacy of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the last international agreement on ocean protection signed in 1982. UNCLOS established an area called the high seas.

What are High Seas?

High seas refer to the areas of the oceans that are beyond the national jurisdiction of any country. Here are some key points to note:

  • The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones beyond 370 km (200 nautical miles) from a country’s coastline and extend up to the outer limits of the continental shelf.
  • All countries have the right to use the high seas for shipping, fishing, and scientific research.
  • The high seas comprise more than 60% of the world’s oceans by surface area.
  • Due to a lack of regulation and monitoring, activities on the high seas are often vulnerable to exploitation, making it important to protect them through international treaties and agreements.

-Source: The Hindu

February 2024