Treaty on the High Seas: A Comprehensive Deal with the Challenge of Facilitating Cooperation

This content was published on Jun 23, 2023 – 14:05


Giovanna Ferrolo m.

Panama City, June 23 (EFE). – The first treaty to protect the high seas, adopted unanimously by the United Nations this week, stands out for its comprehensiveness but also presents challenges, such as aligning institutional and budgetary capacities and cooperation in order to achieve its ambitious goals of preserving the oceans and equitable access to its wealth.

The agreement represents a “milestone after all this effort that has taken more than 15 years” and that involved “many organizations of all kinds (NGOs, businesses), states, governments, civil society and even coastal people and indigenous peoples,” director of Marviva’s Political Chronicle , Panamanian Tania Arosemena, told EFE.

“We want to highlight at MarViva that achieving embedding capacity, this is a comprehensive treaty, not only at the state level but at the sector level,” said this lawyer, who specializes in the development of the maritime sector and holds a postgraduate degree. in environmental impact assessment.

The high seas are waters located more than 200 nautical miles from the coast. It accounts for two-thirds of all oceans, but only 1% is currently protected, MarViva explained.

It does not belong to the jurisdiction of any country, this basis adds with presence in Panama, Costa Rica, and Colombia, the high seas are an unprotected area, which has been made highly threatened by overfishing, pollution, and other human activities.

“The high seas are assets that seem to belong to no one but in fact belong to all of us (…) The sea belongs to all of us and we are against time to protect it. The high seas are those borders that we need to protect, taking advantage of the sustainable way, because that will ensure life on our planet.

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The novelty of the Treaty aims to establish order

The treaty must be signed and ratified by at least 60 countries for it to enter into force. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, has asked governments to get serious about this signature process, which will begin on September 20.

“The advice to governments is that in addition to ratifying it, they should encourage and support efforts to raise awareness of the treaty,” so they can “continue to add actors who may have a place at the implementation table to implement it.” “In a fair, just, and inclusive manner,” Arosemena said.

Marviva asserts that the Convention provides consistent assessments of the environmental impact of human activities on the high seas, ensures the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits of marine genetic resources, enhances the capacity of countries to implement the Convention and provides a path to the establishment of MPAs.

“Each country can have its own regulations, but a treaty is a measure to establish order” on the high seas, explained Arosemena, who has 21 years of experience in environmental law.

Specifically, the expert highlighted that the treaty is an “important environmental impact assessment tool” for “predicting and analyzing the impacts of activities that can be implemented, future impacts, and cumulative impacts.”

This becomes especially important with the advent of new technologies that open the door to seabed mining and intensive fishing.

“Part of creating capabilities and transferring marine technology is also vital and essential. In other words, we live in a world surrounded by sea but most countries turn their backs on the sea, we don’t have the capabilities at the institutional level, we don’t have the capabilities at the academic level, in decision-making, at the level of People, that’s a challenge.”

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Thus, he added, “there is vital work to be able to transfer this knowledge even from countries with more capacity to those with less.” EFE

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