UN conference to draft world’s first high seas biodiversity treaty suspended

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An intergovernmental conference to draft the first-ever treaty on high seas biodiversity was suspended late Friday.

Despite progress made in the two weeks of negotiations, more time is needed to reach an agreement on a final text, said Rena Lee, president of the conference. Lee said the conference was “closer to the finish line” than ever before.

She said a date had not been set to resume negotiations.

The fifth session, which began on Aug. 15 at the United Nations headquarters in New York, was expected to be the final round in a series set in motion in 2018 to draft an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The negotiations aim to address marine genetic resources, including questions on benefit-sharing, measures such as area-based management tools, environmental impact assessments, capacity-building and the transfer of marine technology, Lee said at the beginning of the fifth session.

In a resolution in December 2017, the UN General Assembly decided to convene an intergovernmental conference to elaborate the text of an international legally binding instrument on the conservation and use of marine biodiversity.

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