Historic Decision: UN General Assembly Adopts Resolution to Negotiate a Treaty That Will Protect Half the Planet

Date: 24th December 2017

The UN General Assembly has adopted a resolution today, December 24th, towards protecting half the planet as it agrees to the opening of formal negotiations for a new ocean treaty.The negotiations will commence in September 2018, aiming for a new international treaty to protect the biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, commonly known as the high seas.

The high seas makes up two thirds of the ocean and almost half the planet. It plays a vital role in the functioning of the whole ocean, the atmosphere, climate and terrestrial areas, but its life and ability to perform these functions is not protected in law.

The move to protect the high seas gained impetus as an outcome of the Rio+20 conference and what was thought impossible just five years ago, is now being agreed to by the international community.

The negotiations are expected to last into the first half of 2020.

Peggy Kalas of the High Seas Alliance, which has led the drive for the treaty said: “we are increasingly aware of the importance of the high seas to all life on Earth and this is reflected in the move to protect it.  The negotiations will be hard but there are many champion countries that have worked to get us this far and who will continue to push for a robust and meaningful treaty.”

The Resolution, coordinated by the governments of Mexico and New Zealand was one of the last to go before the General Assembly today with over 140 government co-sponsors, sending a strong message of support for the high seas.

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Cover photo by Rodolfo Mari on Unsplash

Posted on Categories HSA in the News UN Negotiations