Greed stalls high seas treaty

UNITED NATIONS, United States (AFP) — A two-week negotiating session on a treaty to protect the high seas wraps up Friday, with United Nations observers holding their breath that the long-stalled deal can cross the finish line.

After 15 years, including four prior formal sessions, negotiators have yet to reach a legally binding agreement to address the growing environmental and economic challenges involving the high seas, also known as international waters — a zone which encompasses almost half the planet.

Many had hoped that this fifth session, which began on 15 August at the UN headquarters in New York, would be the last and yield a final text on “the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction,” or BBNJ for short.

The High Ambition Coalition, a group of some 50 countries led by the European Union, had even called for a comprehensive BBNJ deal to be finalized by the end of the year.

But according to international environmental group Greenpeace, the talks are on the brink of failure because of what it considers “the greed of countries in the High Ambition Coalition and others like Canada and the United States.”

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