Issue 04 2018-2019

Marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction: The launch of an intergovernmental conference for the adoption of a legally binding instrument under the UNCLOS

by Pascale RICARD

On 24 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 72/249 dealing with the development of an International legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. In line with the Resolution, a new intergovernmental conference met for the first time in September 2018 and will meet three more times before the beginning of 2020, under the auspices of the United Nations, in order to draw up this legally binding instrument under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Although Resolution 72/249 sets the future procedural agenda for the collective adoption of such an instrument, it does not provide a specific deadline for the adoption of the future treaty and leaves some uncertainties. Moreover, the ‘package deal’ agreed to in 2011 – comprised of several elements including marine genetic resources, protected areas and environmental impact assessments – will have to be ‘unpacked’ during the negotiating process, underlining the fact that, so far, the substantial issues at stakes remain contentious and uncertainty prevails about the specific content of the future instrument.



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