Belize becomes the First Caribbean Nation to Ratify the High Seas Treaty

Date: 9th April 2024

New York, 9 April 2024: The High Seas Alliance congratulated Belize for making history by becoming the first Caribbean nation to officially ratify the new High Seas Treaty1 at the United Nations (UN) headquarters, thereby joining Palau and Chile as the leading countries in the global Race for Ratification2.

“We applaud Belize for formally ratifying the High Seas Treaty. Its efforts to safeguard marine life in its national waters have earned Belize a reputation as a world leader in ocean conservation. By committing to protect biodiversity beyond its national jurisdiction today, the nation clearly recognizes how urgently we need to shore up our global ocean’s health to fight the climate and biodiversity crises. We hope other countries in the region and around the world will be inspired by Belize’s leadership and redouble their efforts in the Race for Ratification of the High Seas Treaty. The sooner all nations ratify, the sooner we can deliver the protections on the water,” said Rebecca Hubbard, Director of the High Seas Alliance.

Since it was adopted at the UN on 19 June 2023, 88 countries have signed the High Seas Treaty, thereby expressing their intention to proceed to ratification, and three have ratified it: Palau, Chile and Belize3. A further 57 countries must ratify the Treaty for it to enter into force and become the world’s first international law to mandate the conservation and management of biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions (BBNJ) by enabling the establishment of High Seas marine protected areas, and regulating potentially harmful activities through comprehensive environmental impact assessments.

The High Seas – the ocean beyond countries’ maritime borders – covers half the planet, is home to much of the planet’s 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 currently protected.

Transforming the High Seas Treaty agreement 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.

The High Seas Alliance and its members are working with governments to secure the 60 ratifications needed for the High Seas Treaty to enter into force by the 2025 UN Ocean Conference in Nice, France.



  1. Belize finalized the process of ratification nationally on 26 March 2024, and formally submitted it at the UN on 8 April 2024.
  2. Find out more about the #RaceForRatification and track countries’ progress on the High Seas Alliance Ratification Tracker.
  3. 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.

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.

Download the Press Release in Spanish HERE.

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