UN convenes intergovernmental conference to draft marine biological diversity treaty

The Intergovernmental Conference on 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 will hold a fifth session from 15 to 26 August.  This fifth session is being convened in addition to the four sessions initially mandated by the General Assembly.

The fifth session will be held in person at United Nations Headquarters.  It will be led by the President of the Conference, Rena Lee, Ambassador for Oceans and Law of the Sea Issues and Special Envoy of the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Singapore, with the support of the Secretary-General of the Conference, Miguel de Serpa Soares, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel.

After an opening plenary session on 15 August, the Conference is expected to turn to informal negotiations based on the “Further revised draft text of an 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 prepared after the fourth session of the Conference” (document A/CONF.232/2022/5).  

Over the following two weeks, negotiations will address the four elements of the package of issues being considered by the Conference, namely:  marine genetic resources, including questions on the sharing of benefits; measures such as area-based management tools, including marine protected areas; environmental impact assessments; and capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology.  Cross-cutting issues will also be considered.  

On the last day, 26 August, delegations are expected to consider and adopt the documents of the Conference, including the report of the Conference, which will be transmitted to the General Assembly.

The work of the Conference is crucial to achieving the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, namely the high seas and the international seabed area.  At the closing of the fourth session, Lee expressed her optimism that the destination — the final text of an agreement — is in sight.

Photo credit: iStock/ armiblue

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