Ocean Protection: Morocco Signs United Nations BBNJ Agreement

Morocco, represented by its Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Omar Hilale, signed the treaty of the High Seas, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (UNCLOS).

The signing took place on September 21 at the UN headquarters in New York, during a ceremony held on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

After 18 years of multilateral negotiation, Morocco became the 75th country to sign this legally binding instrument. The convention will enter into force once it has been ratified by 60 countries.

Morocco has played a leading role throughout the negotiation process through its representation of the African group and its substantial contribution to the international consensus that led to the adoption of this convention.

This historic universal treaty is a decisive turning point in international law of the sea, as it advocates innovative and ambitious management tools for the conservation and sustainable, rational, and equitable use of marine biodiversity, such as environmental impact assessments and marine protected areas.

The treaty aims to protect ocean areas outside the sovereignty and exclusive economic zones of coastal states, thus enabling action in marine areas on the high seas, in international waters, and beyond national jurisdiction.

The high seas account for over 60% of the ocean’s surface and nearly half the earth’s surface. Prior to the adoption of this global legal framework, this vast space had no protection, which meant that it came under increasing pressure from human activities, pollution, overexploitation of resources, climate change, and declining biodiversity.

The importance of this treaty is all the more vital given that the high seas are home to a wealth of marine genetic resources and biodiversity, little known to date by scientists, and of inestimable value in ecological, economic, social, cultural, scientific and food security terms.

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