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U.N. Takes First Step Towards Treaty to Curb Lawlessness in High Seas

19 / 06 / 2015, IPS News Environment

The 193-member General Assembly adopted a resolution Friday aimed at drafting a legally binding international treaty for the conservation of marine biodiversity and to govern the mostly lawless high seas beyond national jurisdiction.The resolution was the result of more than nine years of negotiations by an Ad Hoc Informal Working Group, which first met in 2006.“This groundbreaking decision puts us on a path toward having a legal framework in place that will allow for the comprehensive management of ocean areas beyond national jurisdiction.” -- Elizabeth WilsonIf and when the treaty is adopted, it will be the first global treaty to include conservation measures such as marine protected areas and reserves, environmental impact assessments, access to marine genetic resources and benefit sharing, capacity building and the transfer of marine technology.The High Seas Alliance (HSA), a coalition of some 27 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), played a significant role in pushing for negotiations on the proposed treaty and has been campaigning for this resolution since 2011.Asked if the treaty will be finalised by the targeted date of 2018, Elizabeth Wilson, director of international ocean policy at The Pew Charitable Trusts, a member of the HSA, told IPS: “Not exactly, although we do expect significant progress.”The first round of formal negotiations is expected to take place in 2016 and continue through 2017.

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