The long and winding road continues: Towards a new agreement on high seas governance


In 2015, States agreed to launch negotiations for the elaboration of an international legally binding instrument dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of the marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). States have expressed a wide range of positions to date: some have focussed on the issue of marine genetic resources (MGRs); others have been primarily concerned with conservation and sustainable use; a few have been sceptical of the need for a new instrument. The negotiations starting at the United Nation as on March 28, 2016, will focus on a “Package Deal” of issues: marine genetic resources (MGRs), including questions on the sharing of benefits; measures for conservation and sustainable use, such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology. Complex issues and challenges will face negotiators, especially the crea­tion of an access and benefit sharing mechanism for MGRs and a mecha­nism for the creation of marine protected areas in ABNJ. Additional challenges will arise in the creation of an appropriate institu­tional structure and the negotiation of an agreement that does not under­mine the mandates of existing organisations, especially fisheries manage­ment bodies.