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India joins UN high seas treaty.



  Jul 11, 2024

India joins UN high seas treaty.



Overview of the High Seas Treaty

India is poised to sign the global ‘High Seas Treaty,’ formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement. This international treaty, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), is designed to address the growing concerns regarding the protection and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas, areas beyond any nation’s jurisdiction.

Key Features of the BBNJ Agreement

• Sustainable Use of Marine Resources: The treaty establishes frameworks for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction through international cooperation and coordination.
• Fair Benefit Sharing: It ensures that benefits derived from marine resources are shared fairly and equitably among all countries.
• Prohibition on Sovereign Claims: Signatories cannot claim or exercise sovereign rights over marine resources in the high seas.
• Capacity Building and Technology Transfer: The agreement promotes capacity building, access to scientific research, technological advancements, and the sharing of knowledge and information.

India’s Commitment and Strategic Interests

On July 2, 2024, the Indian Cabinet approved the decision to sign the BBNJ Agreement. This move demonstrates India’s dedication to global environmental conservation and sustainable development.

• Environmental Conservation: India’s commitment to environmental conservation is evident in its proactive participation in international treaties and agreements. The signing of the BBNJ Agreement aligns with India’s broader environmental goals.
• Strategic Presence: The treaty allows India to enhance its strategic presence in international waters, potentially opening new avenues for scientific research, marine conservation, and technological innovation.

Global Context and Timeline

The BBNJ Agreement was finalized in March 2023 and opened for signature in September 2023. It requires ratification by at least 60 countries to become legally binding, with a 120-day period after the 60th ratification for it to enter into force. As of June 2024, 91 countries have signed the treaty, and eight have ratified it.

Secretary of MoES, M Ravichandran:
“The Agreement allows us to enhance our strategic presence in areas beyond our EEZ, which is very promising. In addition to shared monetary benefits, it will further strengthen our marine conservation efforts and collaborations, open newer avenues for scientific research and development, access to samples, sequences, and information, capacity building and technology transfer, etc., not just for us but for the benefit of the entire humankind.”

Implications for India

• Enhanced Marine Conservation: The treaty will bolster India’s efforts in marine conservation, allowing for better protection of biodiversity in international waters.
• Scientific Research Opportunities: Access to new marine areas will provide Indian scientists with opportunities to conduct groundbreaking research.
• Technological Advancements: The treaty promotes technology transfer and capacity building, potentially leading to significant advancements in marine technology and innovation.

Conclusion

India’s decision to sign the BBNJ Agreement highlights its commitment to global environmental stewardship and sustainable development. By participating in this international treaty, India not only strengthens its strategic presence in the high seas but also contributes to the collective effort to protect and sustainably use marine biodiversity for the benefit of all humankind.


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