What is the United Nations High Seas Treaty?

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What is the United Nations High Seas Treaty? Blog Image


After more than a decade of negotiations, the countries of the United Nations have recently agreed to the High Seas Treaty.

About UN High Seas Treaty:

  • It is the first-ever treaty to protect the world's oceans that lie outside national boundaries.
  • It is also known as the ‘Paris Agreement for the Ocean.’
  • It is a legally binding treaty to protect marine life in international waters.
  • It aims to place 30% of the seas into protected areas by 2030 (a pledge made by countries at the UN biodiversity conference in 2022).
  • It will provide a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of wildlife and share out the genetic resources of the high seas.
  • It also covers environmental assessments to evaluate the potential damage of commercial activities, such as deep-sea mining.
  • It will establish a conference of the parties (CoP) that will meet periodically and enable member states to be held to account on issues such as governance and biodiversity.
  • The treaty also includes a pledge by signatories to share ocean resources.
  • The treaty is built on the legacy of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which is the last international agreement on ocean protection, signed 40 years ago in 1982. UNCLOS established an area called the high seas.

What are High Seas?

  • The high seas begin at the border of countries’ exclusive economic zones, which extend up to 370km (200 nautical miles) from coastlines.
  • Beyond that point, the seas are under the jurisdiction of no country, and all countries have a right to fish, ship, and do research.
  • They make up more than 60% of the world’s oceans by surface area.
  • Activities on the high seas are often unregulated and insufficiently monitored, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.


Q1) What is an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)?

Exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as defined under the UNCLOS, is an area of the ocean extending up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) immediately offshore from a country’s land coast in which that country retains exclusive rights to the exploration and exploitation of natural resources

Source: Nations reach accord to protect marine life on high seas