(Permanent Mission of St. Kitts and Nevis to the United Nations, New York, March 7, 2023) – After almost two decades of negotiations, the UN membership finally concluded the UN Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ).
The Treaty is the international legal regime aimed at the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity in the oceans beyond the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and continental shelves of states, commonly referred to as the High Seas. The High Seas, or the area beyond national jurisdiction, make up two-thirds of the Earth’s oceans.
“This is a real win for small island developing states like St. Kitts and Nevis,” says H.E. Nerys Dockery, St. Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to the UN. “It is hoped that once Member States begin implementation of the Convention, the international effort can result in greater ocean health. Collective action is required to tackle overfishing, and polluting, amongst other issues, while ensuring that everyone, everywhere in countries large or small, high or low income, enjoys the benefits of the resources contained in the high seas.”
“The negotiations ended at around 9:30 pm Sunday night to rousing applause. Our CARICOM negotiators from Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana are to be highly commended for working non-stop during the final session which ran from 10 am on Friday until Sunday night,” Ambassador Dockery stated.
They were able to advance critical priorities for the Caribbean region in the following areas:
- Ensuring fairness and equity in the access and benefits sharing of the marine genetic resources discovered in the High Seas.
- Ensuring developing countries have access to capacity building and transfer of marine technology.
- Ensuring consistent monitoring of the activities in the High Seas, including through conducting environmental impact assessments.
- Ensuring adequate funding for the implementation of the agreement, including through access to these funds for the State Parties that will ratify and eventually implement the Convention.
Underpinning the draft Convention as a fundamental principle is the “common heritage of mankind”, amongst others, which for small countries is essential to address the concerns in the areas beyond their jurisdiction.
The Group of 77 and China as well as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) played exceptional roles in advocating the interests of developing countries as well as small island developing states.
The Treaty draft will be adopted officially and then will be open for signatures/ratifications by different Member States.