Palau Takes the Lead in the ‘Race for Ratification’

Date: 22nd January 2024

High Seas Alliance congratulates Palau for being the first nation to ratify the High Seas Treaty

The Press Release is also available in Spanish.

New York, 22 January, 2024: The High Seas Alliance applauded Palau for being the first to officially ratify the historic United Nations (UN) High Seas Treaty today and urged other countries to accelerate their efforts in the Race for Ratification*(1).

We congratulate Palau for taking the world lead in the global Race for Ratification of the High Seas Treaty. By ratifying today, President Surangel Whipps Jr. and the Palauan Congress (OEK) have demonstrated his nation’s commitment to restoring ocean health so that it can continue to sustain billions of people worldwide and protect us from the worst impacts of climate change,

said Rebecca Hubbard, Director of the High Seas Alliance.

We hope this inspires other countries*(2) to re-double their efforts to ratify the Treaty without delay so that it can enter into force as soon as possible.

She added.

By becoming the first country to officially ratify the High Seas Treaty, Palau leads by example for the Blue Pacific continent and the world, to ensure the protection and conservation of the ocean that is at the heart of the Pacific way of life,

said Olive Vaai, Oceania-Pacific Regional Coordinator for the High Seas Alliance.

The High Seas – the ocean beyond countries’ maritime borders – covers half the planet, is home to the world’s greatest wealth of biodiversity and plays an essential role in regulating our climate by absorbing about 30% of the CO2 produced by humans each year. This vast ocean area supports some of the most important, yet critically endangered ecosystems on Earth, yet a lack of governance has left it increasingly vulnerable to overexploitation. Currently, only 1.5% of the High Seas is protected.

Once 60 countries ratify the High Seas Treaty, it will enter into force and become the world’s first international law to mandate the conservation and management of marine life in areas beyond countries’ national jurisdictions, enabling the establishment of High Seas marine protected areas, and regulating potentially harmful activities through comprehensive environmental impact assessments.

Since it opened for signature at the UN General Assembly in September 2023, 84 UN Member States have signed the High Seas Treaty, thereby expressing their intention to proceed to ratification2. The High Seas Alliance and its members are working with governments to secure at least 60 ratifications needed for the Treaty to enter into force by the 2025 UN Ocean Conference in Nice, France. 

Transforming the High Seas Treaty into action in the water is a critical step to securing international goals to reverse the climate and biodiversity crises, including the goal to protect 30% of the world’s land and sea by 2030, agreed during the UN global Biodiversity Summit in December 2022. 


*(1) Track countries’ progress on the High Seas Treaty and find out more about the #RaceForRatification at

*(2) There are 193 Member States to the United Nations. See a full list on the High Seas Alliance Ratification Tracker. 

Signing does not establish consent for States to be bound to the Treaty, but it does express the willingness of the signatory State to continue the treaty-making process and for it to proceed to ratification. Signing also creates an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and the purpose of the Treaty. Following signature, countries can ratify the Agreement at any time. The Treaty text specifies that this Agreement shall be open for signature by all States from 20 September 2023 and will remain open for signature at the UN Headquarters in New York until 20 September 2025. Once this period has past, States can join by acceding to the Agreement. Accession refers to the act whereby a State expresses its consent to be bound by an Agreement. This can take place after a Treaty has entered into force.

Ratification is when nations formally consent to the new international law, and this often entails ensuring that their national laws are consistent with it. The speed and process to ratify varies by country. In some countries, the act of ratification is simply a Leader’s decree, while in others Parliamentary approval is needed.

Read more about the High Seas Treaty in this factsheet and FAQs.


Patricia Roy:

Posted on Categories Featured News Treaty Ratification