The UN High Seas Treaty

On March 4, 2023, global negotiations concluded on the landmark Treaty of the High Seas.

The draft agreement 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 was published by the UN General Assembly on March 5, 2023. The final text will be formally adopted in a future meeting of the delegations and will enter into force once ratified by at least 60 States. 

France played an active part with the European Union to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion and is proud of this ambitous Treaty for the protection of the high seas. As a reminder, the high seas represent more than 60% of the oceans and nearly half of the planet's surface. It begins beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (no more than 200 nautical miles or approximately 370km) of coastal States.  


To conserve and sustainably use marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction, several provisions are included in the draft agreement: 

  • Fair and equitable sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits arising from activities with respect to marine gentic resources and digital sequence information;

  • The establishment of a comprehensive system of area-based management tools, including marine protected areas and strenghen cooperation and coordination between the Parties in the implementation and in the use of these management tools;

  • Obligation to conduct environmental impact assessments when a Party with jurisdiction or control over a planned activity may cause substantial pollution of or significant and harmful changes to the marine environment in the high seas;

  • Country-driven, transparent, effective and inclusive capacity-building and transfer of marine technology between the Parties, including research activities.  


To implement this Treaty, bodies are provided for in the text, such as a Conference of the Parties, a Scientific and Technical Body, a Capacity-Building and Transfer of Marine Technology Committee, a Secretariat and a Clearing House. The Draft agreement also provides for a funding mechanism with a voluntary fund or a special fund to support certain capacity-building or conservation projects.

To discover the Draft agreement published by the United Nations General Assembly, go here