The Pacific Island nation of Palau has become the first member state of the United Nations to deposit its instrument of ratification of the Marine Biodiversity Treaty in New York.

Last week, on Monday 22 January 2024, Palau’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ilana Seid submitted her island nation’s ratification instrument to the Office of the Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs and the UN Legal Counsel.

This is the first ratification since the historical agreement was adopted in New York on 19 June last year. The treaty is a global legally binding treaty under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

As of October 2023, the Marine Biodiversity Treaty has been signed by 85 countries including 12 Pacific Island Forum nations – Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Republic of Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Palau’s ratification has been hailed by the Office of the Pacific Ocean Commissioner (OPOC), which recently relocated to Koror from Suva, Fiji Islands.

OPOC Commissioner, Dr Filmon Manoni congratulated the nation of Palau for its ‘courageous step’ – making it the first State Party of the UN to endorse the Treaty through its Parliament.

Dr Manoni said another Pacific nation, the Federated States of Micronesia was the first to sign the Marine Biodiversity Treaty in New York in September 2023.

“These represent the commitment and ambition of Pacific countries to make this ground-breaking and historical agreement, a reality and a success.

Dr Manoni also welcomed Tonga as the latest signatory to the global treaty.

The new treaty will enter into force 120 days after 60 countries deposit their instrument of ratification with the United Nations.

At the adoption of the Agreement, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres urged all Member States to spare no effort to ensure that the Agreement enters into force, called on them to act without delay to sign and ratify it as soon as possible and expressed readiness to help States make this happen.