International Law Studies


In March 2023, an intergovernmental conference adopted the Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement). Inspired by a resurgence of the New International Economic Order (NIEO), the BBNJ Agreement contains numerous provisions that will have the practical effect of making ratification of the agreement untenable for the industrialized nations. Similar provisions were included in the original Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). As a result, industrialized nations refused to sign or ratify UNCLOS when it was opened for signature in 1982. UNCLOS did not enter into force until Part XI was amended by an implementing agreement in 1994 to eliminate the NIEO-inspired provisions that were objectionable to the developed nations. Unfortunately, the international community is seeing history repeat itself with the negotiation and adoption of the BBNJ Agreement. In its current form, the BBNJ Agreement repeats many of the mistakes of Part XI and will never receive the required votes for advice and consent in the U.S. Senate. Unless these provisions are amended, the result will be that genetic resources, like deep seabed minerals, will not be exploited for the benefit of mankind.