Su Jin Park and Ki Hyeon Kim


As the pressure on and significant adverse impacts to marine biodiversity areas within the jurisdiction as well as beyond national jurisdiction from the human activities have been gradually increasing, cautious management for conservation and sustainable use has been required accordingly.

In order to address such challenges, the international community has made efforts through United Nations framework—in particular, through Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on BBNJ. In 2008 at the 2nd Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on BBNJ, the role of area-based management tools including MPAs (Marine Protected Areas) was addressed as one of major issues. Since then, the international community has reached convergence that area-based management tools including MPAs are essential and effective tools as precautionary and ecosystem-based approaches to human activities in the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction.

Although MPAs are very useful management tools as well as a foundation in conserving marine biodiversity, the actual application of MPAs to ABNJ (Area Beyond National Jurisdiction) has faced challenges under the current framework of UNCLOS. The reason is that the current framework of UNCLOS has divided the rights and obligations of coastal States based on the zones—territorial sea, continental shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone, high seas, and the Areas. The zonal approach is the fundamental cause for controversy over the interpretation of existing international instruments as well as relevant issues of a new international instrument on the designation and management of MPAs at the UNBBNJ meetings over the last decade.

In this regard, this study explores the challenges and future perspectives in addressing the MPAs in ABNJ based on the analysis of the legal issues, recent developments and future perspectives on the MPAs in the ABNJ including the definition, designation process, monitoring, review process and effectiveness of MPAs and their relation to existing relevant international instruments and frameworks.