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On UNGA margins, world leaders bolster bedrock of international law

Heads of State, Foreign Ministers, and other top representatives are converging to endorse multilateral treaties which form the bedrock of international legal frameworks.

“Multilateral treaties are essential tools for Member States to achieve the objectives of the UN Charter,” emphasized David Nanopoulos, Chief of the Treaty Section at the UN Office for Legal Affairs (OLA).

The remarkable reversal on ozone, driven by the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, serves as a testament to the potency of such multilateral agreements.

“Universal participation in these treaties is absolutely fundamental to their success,” Mr. Nanopoulos added.

Treaties in focus

This year, two landmark treaties are in focus: the Convention on the International Effects of Judicial Sales of Ships, and the Agreement under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction, commonly known as the BBNJ treaty or high seas treaty.

The former, focused on trade and signed by 15 nations as of Tuesday, aims to shore up international law regarding ship sales.

The landmark BBNJ treaty was agreed in June, following nearly two decades of negotiations, and strengthens the legal regime in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity, in over two-thirds of the world’s ocean.

Other treaties open for signature include those relating to environment, human rights, disarmament, and combatting transnational organized crime.

Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, signs the BBNJ treaty at the UN Treaty Event.
United Nations/Paulina Kubiak

Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, signs the BBNJ treaty at the UN Treaty Event.

Long legacy

The Treaty Event, established in 2000 by former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, capitalizes on the UN General Assembly’s annual high-level week to garner global leader support for multilateral treaties and the rule of law.

This initiative has seen substantial success, with over 2,000 treaty actions secured.

As the depository of multilateral treaties, the UN Secretary-General plays a pivotal role in their administration, ensuring transparency and facilitating cooperation among Member States, thereby upholding international law and principles of diplomacy. 

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