Monaco first in EU to ratify UN High Seas Treaty on protections outside national jurisdictions

high seas treaty monaco

In a history-making moment, the Principality has once again demonstrated its commitments to marine environment protections by becoming the first European nation to ratify the United Nations’ High Seas Treaty, an agreement created to safeguard life in the oceans beyond individual countries’ national jurisdictions. 

The High Seas Treaty, formally known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) Agreement has been nearly two decades in the making. It stems from an extensive negotiation process that saw Monaco involved at every active stage.  

Indeed, Prince Albert II of Monaco was among the first to undersign the treaty when it was presented on 20th September 2023 in New York. 

Then, on 9th May, the Principality was at the front of the queue again, this time to formally ratify the High Seas Treaty. 

Isabelle Picco, Permanent Representative of Monaco to the UN, had the honour of handing over the official instrument of ratification to the Chief of the UN Treaty Section, David Nanopoulos. 

This puts Monaco in the company of four other countries, namely Chile, Belize, Seychelles and Palau, who have officially put their stamp on the treaty.  

The BBNJ Agreement is a complementary pact to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which aims to provide common governance for the ocean areas that lie outside the jurisdictions of any nations, also known as international waters, in order to protect and restore biodiversity levels and promote the sustainable use of these waters, as well as to prevent misuse and degradation.  

The BBNJ Agreement covers roughly half the Earth’s surface and 95% of the oceans’ volume and will make it possible to create vast marine protected areas in line with the existing objective of achieving protections for 30% of the planet by 2030. Currently, only 1% of the high seas are protected.  


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Photo credit: United Nations