High Seas Treaty and its significance

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Source- This post on the High Seas Treaty and its significance has been created based on the article “India to ratify High Seas Treaty: What is the agreement — and its significance?” published in “Indian Express” on 10 July 2024.

Why in the news?

The Indian government has announced that it will soon sign and ratify the High Seas Treaty.

About High Seas Treaty

1) The High Seas Treaty is an international legal framework designed to protect and sustainably use marine biodiversity and other resources in ocean waters beyond national jurisdiction.

ii)  These areas are known as high seas or international waters and make up about 64% of the total ocean area.

iii) This treaty aimed at maintaining the ecological health of the oceans by reducing pollution and conserving marine biodiversity.

2. Scope of the Treaty:

i) The treaty deals with oceans outside the national jurisdiction of any country.

ii)  National jurisdictions typically extend up to 200 nautical miles (370 km) from the coastline, known as exclusive economic zones (EEZs). High seas are the areas beyond these EEZs.

4. International Governance: The treaty complements the 1982 UN Convention on Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) which provides broad frameworks for the use and conservation of oceans but does not specify how to achieve these objectives.

5. Objectives of the Treaty:

i) Conservation and Protection: Establishes Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) similar to national parks or wildlife reserves.

ii) Fair and Equitable Sharing: Ensures that benefits from marine genetic resources are shared among all countries.

ii) Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs): Mandates EIAs for activities that could harm marine ecosystems, with the results made public.

iv) Capacity Building and Technology Transfer: Aims to help developing countries benefit from marine resources while contributing to conservation efforts.

6. Ratification Process: The treaty will come into force once 60 countries ratify it. Ratification means a country agrees to be legally bound by the treaty, which often requires legislative or executive approval.

7. India’s Involvement:

i) India participated in nearly 20 years of negotiations that led to the treaty’s finalization.

ii) India’s decision to sign and ratify the treaty aligns with the actions of 91 other countries that have signed, and eight that have ratified it so far.

UPSC Syllabus: International treaties

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