On 4 March 2023 global negotiations concluded on the landmark Treaty of the High Seas to protect the ocean, tackle environmental degradation, fight climate change, and prevent biodiversity loss. BIICL held a Rapid Response Webinar on 19 April 2023 that convened a panel of experts to discuss legal issues relating to the new treaty, also known as the Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction treaty (BBNJ). The treaty lays the groundwork for marine protections over previously unregulated waters. Its primary aim is to protect biodiversity by establishing large-scale marine protected areas and regulating marine research for scientific and commercial development. The event was convened by Dr Jack Kenny, Research Fellow in International Law, BIICL.
The event featured a chair with significant experience in the area, Ms Fernanda Millicay, Permanent Representative of Argentina to the IMO, and four expert presenters. The first two presenters addressed aspects related to the core of the BBNJ package, while the second two speakers touched upon different nuances, one addressing a systemic issue which is compliance and dispute settlement, and the last speaker addressed the specific implications of this agreement to the Arctic Ocean governance.
The speakers presented in the following order: Lydia Slovakian from Georgetown Law presented on the common heritage of mankind and its relationship to the principle of equity, Professor Marcel Jaspars from the University of Aberdeen presented on marine genetic resources as part of the BBNJ treaty, Dr Efthymios Papastavridis from the University of Oxford presented on the implementation and enforcement as well as dispute settlement of the BBNJ, and Professor Yoshifumi Tanaka of the University of Copenhagen presented on the implications of the new BBNJ agreement on Arctic Ocean governance. The panel then took questions from the chair and online audience.