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© Institut Océanographique

Over more than a century, a number of international bodies have established their headquarters in Monaco. Below is an overview of that history.

The Principality’s international commitment dates back to the early twentieth century when Prince Albert I founded the International Institute for Peace, an early forerunner of the United Nations, in Monaco in 1903, and contributed to the creation of Interpol.

At his behest, two international institutions for the ocean then set up their headquarters in Monaco. Established in 1919 to promote international research in the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Science Commission (CIESM) was one of the very first international organisations devoted to maritime issues. Today chaired by Prince Albert II, it has 23 member states.

Albert I, the “Scholar Prince”, was also behind the creation in 1921 of the International Hydrographic Bureau, the main body of the future International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), which was founded in Monaco in 1967. Based in the Principality, the IHO’s primary mission is to promote hydrographic surveys and mapping of the world’s seas, oceans and navigable waters.

Like his ancestor, Prince Rainier III was keen for Monaco to play an important role on the world stage. In response to the nuclear tests conducted after the Second World War, in 1959 he welcomed to Monaco the first global scientific conference on the disposal of radioactive waste on land and at sea.

© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi

Two years later, with support from the Monegasque Government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) established the International Laboratory of Radioactivity in the Principality, designed to promote the use of nuclear and isotope techniques to protect the marine environment. Today, this laboratory is home to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre and measures the impact of climate change on the environment.

Prince Rainier also helped to develop the first international mechanisms for protecting the marine world, which are now known as marine protected areas. A pilot zone was established between Saint-Raphaël and Genoa (expanded to Marseille–La Spezia), creating a genuine laboratory of ideas for protecting the environment.

In 1976, Monaco signed the RAMOGE Agreement (St RAphaël, MOnaco, GEnoa) with France and Italy. The Permanent Secretariat of the RAMOGE Commission is still provided by the Government of Monaco.

Some thirty years later, Prince Rainier III also prompted another major agreement in the Mediterranean to protect cetaceans: the Pelagos Agreement. This treaty, signed in 1999, led to the establishment of a sanctuary for marine mammals in a maritime area covering 87,500 km².

© Journal de Monaco, 20 juin 1975
© F. Bassemayousse - WWF France

At the initiative of Prince Albert II, the Permanent Secretariat of the Pelagos Agreement moved to the Principality in 2017.

The Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), which came into force on 1 June 2001, is also based in Monaco. The Agreement covers the maritime waters of the Black Sea, the Mediterranean and the contiguous Atlantic area to the west of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Finally, during the reign of Prince Albert II, the Association for Sustainable Financing of Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas was created in 2015 at the initiative of the Principality of Monaco, France, Tunisia and the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.

The association operates under Monegasque law and has since been joined by Morocco, Albania and four regional organisations. Through his foundation, Prince Albert II was also involved in founding the Association Monégasque pour l’Acidification des Océans (AMAO, Monaco Ocean Acidification Association) in 2013. The AMAO is part of the Ocean and Climate Platform.

© DR
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