Background and issues

The high seas, which cover about two-thirds of the planet, are still relatively little understood and benefit from insufficient legal and institutional protections against the many threats that they face. Discussions are slowly progressing at an international level, but remain polarised between viewpoints in favour of upholding the traditional principle of maritime freedom (of fishing, navigation, scientific research, etc.), and those pushing for increased protection of the fragile biodiversity of the high seas.

Research objectives and strategy

In 2011, IDDRI formed a partnership agreement with the Agence française des Aires Marines Protégées (French Agency for Marine Protected Areas) concerning the governance of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In this regard, IDDRI is focusing on the clarification of key questions for international meetings related to high seas governance, whether at a regional or global scale.

Reports and policy briefs on specific subjects such as protected marine areas, or the integration of marine biodiversity issues into regional conventions (2012), have regularly been published in order to contribute to ongoing discussions. All these efforts are aimed at promoting the establishment of a political, legal and institutional framework that can allow for the establishment of concrete projects for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the high seas.


Funding and partners

IDDRI also leads a multi-stakeholder working group on high seas governance, the 2 nd meeting of which will be convened in September 2012 to take stock of the advances made at Rio+20 and clarify the key questions to be discussed at the 11 th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (held in Hyderabad, India, October 2012).

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