IUCN Statement on the High Seas Treaty
IUCN welcomes states finding common ground on the text of the High Seas Treaty in New York, USA on 4 March 2023, after years of negotiations.
We congratulate the President of the Intergovernmental Conference on Marine Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, the secretariat of the UN, and all the state delegates for their efforts.
“The High Seas Treaty opens the path for humankind to finally provide protection to marine life across vast swathes of the ocean. Its adoption will close a significant gap in international law and offer a framework for governments to work together to protect global ocean heath, climate resilience, and the socioeconomic wellbeing and food security of billions of people. We stand ready to support its implementation,” says IUCN Director General, Dr Bruno Oberle.
Although more ambitious measures will be needed, this legally-binding agreement marks an important step towards protecting the two-thirds of the ocean that lies beyond national jurisdiction.
IUCN particularly applauds the alignment of the Treaty with other international commitments including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, and the creation of a special fund to finance the rehabilitation and ecological restoration of marine biodiversity.
IUCN and its Members have been advocating for such an agreement for two decades and have been providing scientific and legal advice to negotiators since the start of the formal negotiations (in 2018), in particular on provisions concerning area-based management tools, especially marine protected areas. Commitments must now be implemented in ways that help address climate change and the many threats to marine ecosystems, and guarantee the critical benefits marine ecosystems provide to people.
IUCN is calling for adoption and ratification to be fast-tracked, to bring the High Seas Treaty into force. The Union is offering its continued support to Parties and stakeholders to lay the foundation for a rapid, effective, and equitable implementation.