The BBNJ Agreement: A ‘New York Moment’ for the Oceans?

‘The ship has reached the shore!’ With these emphatic words, Conference President Rena Lee announced the successful conclusion of year-long negotiations on a binding Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction on Saturday, 4 March 2023. The so-called BBNJ agreement has been praised across the board, and described as the ‘New York Moment’ for the oceans, joining the ‘Paris Moment’ for the climate. Even if this might only be a symptom of the wider obsession with turns and moments, the conclusion of the BBNJ still constitutes an important development for the law of the sea as well as for international environmental law.

At this meeting of the Law, Climate Change, and the Environment initiative, Professor MakaneMoïse Mbengue and Moritz Vinken will discuss the BBNJ agreement as far as concerns the substantive, institutional as well as procedural innovations it presents.

Makane Moïse Mbengue is Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Geneva and Director of the Department of International Law and International Organization. He is also an Affiliate Professor at Sciences Po Paris (School of Law). He has acted and acts as expert for the African Union, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and many other international organizations. Professor Mbengue acts as counsel in disputes before international courts and tribunals and as advisor for governments. He is the author of several publications in the field of international law.

Moritz Vinken is Research Fellow and PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Public Comparative Law and International Law. He received a Maître en droit from Paris II and an LLM from King’s College London. His research interests are international and transnational environmental Law; the international public authority approach as well as other legal approaches to international law. His dissertation project focuses on the legal instruments of global climate change governance.

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