Pacific calls for immediate ratification of Highseas Treaty

Photo: UN

As the global community embrace the adoption of the new Biodiversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) treaty, the Pacific are calling on the international community to seize this milestone momentum and rally towards the haste ratification and for the signing to be held at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly’s 78th session on 20 September 2023.

And they’ve also called for a Preparatory Commission to be in place to ensure that the implementation starts in earnest.

Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General and outgoing Ocean Commissioner Henry Puna says the new treaty recognises and upholds the special connection the people of the Blue Pacific have with the ocean, including “recognising that our Indigenous Peoples and local communities have a role to play in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity even beyond our borders, and that their rights as holders of traditional knowledge must be upheld.”

“By recognising the special circumstances of SIDS, the treaty will ensure that our Pacific Island countries receive proper support in the implementation of the treaty. Together with a framework for the sharing of monetary and non-monetary benefits from the access and utilisation of marine genetic resources and digital sequence information derived from them, it provides for means to support the development of capacity in research and development and provide our countries with adequate technologies to be the custodians of the ocean that they are meant to be,” said Puna, the former Pacific Ocean Commissioner. 

“With the adoption of this new treaty as a new international legally binding instrument under the 1982 UNCLOS, I look forward to continued engagement and support to all Forum Members, in partnership with OPOC and CROP agencies, on the implementation of the treaty for our Blue Pacific Continent today and for generations to come,” he said.

Pacific Ambassadors to the United Nations all shared similar sentiments for the speedy ratification of the new treaty.

Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Filipo Tarakinikini, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum States said that “”while we celebrate this milestone, let us acknowledge that there is much yet achieve and precious little time to do so.  Let us push ahead with utmost urgency for the sake of our one Blue Planet.”

“Today’s (Monday) adoption marks a significant milestone achievement for multilateralism, for social and economic justice and equity, for future generations and most of all, for our precious environment,” said Ambassador Tarakinikini. 

Palau’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ilana Seid, speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Islands Developing States (PSIDS) while commending the great leadership by the President of the Inter Governmental Conference Reena Lee by captaining the ship safely to shore, she also acknowledged the Pacific navigators in their own special fleet who have been part of this journey. 

Samoa’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Matilda Bartley speaking on behalf of the Alliance of the Small Islands States (AOSIS) said that being the most vulnerable to climate change, this agreement was critical in the enhancement of the ocean and in addressing climate change.

Permanent Mission of Nauru to the UN, Charge d’affaires Branessa Tsiode delivered a statement on behalf of Nauru during the historic adoption of the BBNJ Treaty. “Today is a day to mark with celebration, though it is but the first one in the next phase of our journey – towards entry into force and implementation,” she said.