United Nations Treaty for International Waters

The High Seas Alliance (HSA) is a partnership of over 40 non-governmental organisations and groups from across the globe, whose aim is to build a strong common voice and constituency for the conservation of the high seas. Since 2011, our members have been committed to working together and as individual organisations to enable international cooperation to improve ocean governance and to ensure that meaningful action is taken to achieve successful biodiversity conservation within the high seas. It is through partnerships such as ours with the Levine Family Foundation that we are able to continue with this important work.

The high seas, comprising 64 percent of the global ocean and covering nearly half of the planet, contain some of the most biologically important, least protected and most critically threatened ecosystems in the world. These international waters face increasing impacts from fishing, shipping plastic, chemical and noise pollution, as well as significant threats related to climate change and ocean acidification.

As the high seas are a global common, only a global treaty negotiated under the auspices of the United Nations can sufficiently address the inadequate, highly fragmented and poorly implemented legal and institutional framework that is currently failing to protect the high seas – and therefore the entire global ocean – from the multiple threats they face in the 21st century. In 2017, after a decade of work, UN Member
States finally agreed to begin formal negotiations for a treaty to protect biodiversity within the high seas, with the negotiations to be concluded by 2020. These negotiations are the High Seas Alliance’s top priority as we must ensure that the end result is a robust treaty that allows for effective biodiversity conservation in the high seas.

As the 2020 deadline is fast approaching, there are several areas within the treaty that the High Seas Alliance is specifically focused on including the establishment of marine protected areas within the high seas and a framework for robust environmental impact assessments.


Click here to reader further about the High Seas Alliance’s key policy asks for the treaty on their Resources page. If you would like more information about High Seas Alliance, please visit their website at highseasalliance.org or follow them on social media at @HighSeasAlliance

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