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Treaty of the High Seas

  • IAS NEXT, Lucknow
  • 24, Mar 2022
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The fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC-4) was held in New York to conclude a draft of the instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine Biological diversity in areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ).

  • The IGC-4 is convened under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
About BBNJ Treaty:
  • The “BBNJ Treaty”, also known as the “Treaty of the High Seas”, is an international agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, currently under negotiation at the United Nations.
  • This new instrument is being developed within the framework of the UNCLOS, the main international agreement governing human activities at sea.
  • It will achieve a more holistic management of high seas activities, which should better balance the conservation and sustainable use of marine resources.
  • BBNJ encompasses the high seas, beyond the exclusive economic zones or national waters of countries.


  • According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), these areas account for “almost half of the Earth’s surface”.
  • These areas are hardly regulated and also least understood or explored for its biodiversity – only 1% of these areas are under protection.

The negotiated agreement has five aspects:

  1. Environmental impact assessments for activities taken up on high seas.
  2. Conservation of marine genetic resources.
  3. Capacity building.
  4. Technology transfer.
  5. Cross-cutting issues such as institutional structure and financial support.