Vietnam Takes Major Step Towards Sustainably Managing Marine Environment with High Seas Treaty Signing

On September 20, a momentous event occurred as Vietnam officially signed the landmark High Seas Treaty - a treaty that has garnered global attention in the last decade.

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Vietnam – one of the first nations to sign the High Seas Treaty

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son signed the United Nations (UN) agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (the High Seas Treaty) on September 20, making Vietnam one of the first countries to sign the international-legally binding instrument under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Minister Bui Thanh Son emphasized that the agreement holds great significance for Vietnam. It strengthens the system of legal documents based on the 1982 UNCLOS in the management of seas and oceans, with the aim of achieving sustainable development. The agreement reaffirms the 1982 UNCLOS as the legal framework for all activities at sea, ensuring that all maritime claims align with the common interests of the international community. The determination of international waters and marine living resources, which belong to all humanity, must be made in accordance with the 1982 UNCLOS.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son signs the High Sea Treaty, a United Nations agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. Photo by Thu Hong
Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son signs the High Sea Treaty, a United Nations agreement on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction. (Photo: Thu Hong/VNA)

The signing of the agreement also sends the message that Vietnam is a responsible member of the international community and showcases the country’s commitment to addressing global issues, promoting peace, prosperity, and sustainable development.

High Seas Treaty – a historic agreement under the 1982 UNCLOS

The ratification and signing of the High Seas Treaty mark a significant milestone in global efforts for environmental protection and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, particularly goal No.14 on the preservation and sustainable use of oceans and maritime resources.

The treaty will come into effect upon ratification and approval by 60 countries. On the first day of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly, 67 countries, including the United States, China, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Mexico, and the European Union, signed the treaty, according to the UN.

The High Seas Treaty establishes regulations for the use, distribution, and conservation of marine genetic resources in international waters. These resources cover more than 60% of the surface area of the oceans and are not owned by any government. Deep-sea locations host rich ecosystems with valuable genes of scientific and economic importance, particularly for pharmaceutical and cosmetic production.

Therefore, the treaty is crucial for global efforts to effectively conserve and manage at least 30% of the world’s terrestrial and inland water areas, as well as marine and coastal areas, by 2030. It also sets out principles for sharing the benefits of “marine genetic resources” collected through scientific research in international waters.

The Treaty’s Implications for Vietnam

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son stated that the treaty allows Vietnam and other developing countries to participate in scientific research, receive marine technology transfers, and benefit economically by sharing advantages with countries that have stronger marine technology and greater financial resources for exploiting genetic resources.

Illustrative photo: Vietnamese Navy boats arrive at Da Lat Island in Truong Sa Archipelago. Photo: VNA
Illustrative photo: Da Lat Island in Truong Sa Archipelago. (Source: VNA)

The treaty also establishes and promotes mechanisms for international cooperation and regional marine cooperation to preserve and share the benefits of marine genetic resources. This provides opportunities for Vietnam to enhance cooperation, strengthen mutual interests, and contribute to the protection of its homeland from afar.

Vietnam’s early participation in the treaty’s negotiations and contributions to its development align with the country’s strategy of actively and responsibly engaging in the resolution of international and regional issues related to seas and oceans. This strategy is outlined in Directive 25 of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat on Seas and Oceans, which focuses on enhancing the country’s multilateral diplomacy until 2030, according to Minister Bui Thanh Son.

Phuong Nguyen