The Long and Winding Road: negotiating a treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction


Marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) cover nearly half of the Earth’s surface and host a significant portion of its biodiversity. The international community, increasingly aware of the growing threats to ecosystems in ABNJ, has been informally discussing options to conserve and sustainably use its biodiversity for more than a decade. On 24 December 2017, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) decided to convene an intergovernmental conference (IGC) to elaborate an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) for the conservation and sustainable use of the biological diversity of ABNJ. As States continue to navigate the complex issues at stake and start to negotiate the provisions of a new agreement, it is imperative that all stakeholders have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the history of the process, elements under discussion, State positions to date, and the challenges that lie ahead. The Long and Winding Road provides a guide to the discussions for both experienced participants and newcomers to the process.