Yellow card warning to stop time-wasting at critical UN High Seas Treaty negotiations

HSA/Civil Society

We are now well into week 2 of the negotiations for a High Seas Treaty at the United Nations, and while still staying optimistic that a Treaty is in reach, frustrations have been growing over the slow pace of progress from when negotiations kicked off last Monday. 

Given an agreement was supposedly just “hours” away at the last negotiating session in August, many expected to be much further along in finalizing a Treaty than we are now. The new revised text of the Treaty that came out over the weekend still contained over 600 brackets of unagreed text.

To express deep concerns that time is slipping away, members of High Seas Alliance braved the snow and freezing temperatures in New York and gathered outside the UN today wearing High Seas United football shirts and dishing out yellow card warnings to governments negotiating inside. 

Unfortunately, not all governments are being sporting in their conduct during these negotiations. If we want to get a new Treaty agreed by the end of this week, there is no more time for unhelpful delaying tactics, going round in circles and time-wasting.

The 52 government members of the High Ambition Coalition for the High Seas have a key role to play and must summon the political will, diplomatic skill and flexibility to work closely with other governments to successfully finalize negotiations. 

With only 0.8% of the High Seas strongly protected, this new Treaty will be a critical milestone to help achieve the recently agreed Kunming Montreal target to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030. The longer we delay getting a Treaty, the harder it will be to achieve this target that scientists say is essential to ensure a healthy ocean for future generations. 

This Treaty has been 21 years in the making since discussions first started. NGOs are here at the meeting cheering from the sidelines urging governments in these final 4 days to increase discipline, keep their eyes on the ball, and speed up the game. 

Victory is in sight, and we can unite to get one new High Seas Treaty in the back of the net by the end of the week.

There’s still a lot of work that must be done, but as the late great Brazilian football legend Pelé once said, “The more difficult the victory, the greater the happiness in winning.”