Last week Monaco welcomed former US Secretary of State John Kerry to open a discussion panel with H.S.H Prince Albert II, the “High Seas Treaty Dialogue”. Organised by the Nobel Institute in Norway and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, a select group of heads of government came together to discuss the issue of protecting the oceans.


From 3rd to 5th March, the discussion addressed the crucial issues that remain outstanding before the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC4) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction. This is a United Nations General Assembly conference which will take place from 23rd March to 3rd April at the UN Headquarters in New York.


The Prince and Kerry were able to discuss aspects related to the High Seas Treaty and tools for managing marine protected areas.


Other topics of discussion included how to tackle problems that can arise in such areas without jurisdiction, for example, overfishing and deep-sea mining.


john kelly prince albert ii monaco high waters treaty bbnj united nations igc4 discussion

Gaetan Luci via Prince’s Palace


Although assuring that the seabed can be protected, Prince Albert II said that “unfortunately, this is not the case on international waters. There, there are extraordinary resources and biodiversity that are already threatened and can be exploited by anyone, anyhow”.


The problem with biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction, also known as international waters, high seas, or BBNJ, is that there is yet to be joint agreement on their conservation. Moreover, 61% of all seas and oceans are classed as BBNJ.


The High Seas Treaty hopes to secure its preservation by linking deep ocean science and technology with international policy development.