What is United Nations High Seas Treaty?

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Recently, a new round of negotiations on the United Nations High Seas Treaty began in New York.

About United Nations High Seas Treaty:

  • It is known as the ‘Paris Agreement for the Ocean’, and the treaty to deal with Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction has been under discussion for several years.
  • The proposed treaty concerns the ocean existing beyond the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) that lie from the coast of a country to about 200 nautical miles into the sea (Countries have special rights for exploration till 200 nautical miles).
  • The treaty was to be negotiated under the United Nations Convention on Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982.

Key facts about the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

  • UNCLOS became effective on 16th November 1982.
  • It superseded the four Geneva Conventions of April 1958, which respectively concerned the territorial sea and the contiguous zone, the continental shelf, the high seas, fishing and conservation of living resources on the high seas.
  • As per UNCLOS, the sea is divided into 4 parts:
  •  Territorial waters
  •  Contiguous Zone
  •  Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)
  •  Continental Shelf


Q1) What is Continental Shelf?

The term "continental shelf" is used by geologists generally to mean that part of the continental margin which is between the shoreline and the shelf break where water is approximately between 100 and 200 metres.

Source: Fresh negotiations on UN High Seas Treaty begin in New York. Here’s what to expect