World Oceans Day: the School of Law Celebrates with Law of the Sea Lectures

In celebration of World Oceans Day, the convenors of the Essex Public International Law Lecture Series, Dr Meagan Wong and Dr Emily Jones invite you to re-visit our law of the sea lectures in our series featuring the impressive speakers who play a leading role in advising, facilitating, negotiating, pleading, and adjudicating various matters of the international law of the sea in a variety of settings: Ms Lucía Solano (legal advisor to Colombian mission at the United Nations), Judge Kriangsak Kittichaisaree (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea), Judge Ida Caracciolo (International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea), Mr Osvaldo Urrutia (Senior legal advisor to Chile on fisheries & ocean affairs and former Chair of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization (SPRFMO).

In relation to the negotiation of maritime delimitation agreements, Ms Lucía Solano, legal advisor of the Colombian Permanent Mission to the United Nations and former head of the Treaty Office – International Law Directorate at the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is chaired by Dr Meagan Wong in a fireside chat, hosted by Dr Emily Jones:

In her former capacity as head of treaties in the Colombian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lucía Solano lead the negotiation of all sorts of agreements for her country, including in particular maritime delimitation agreements. Lucía thus brings her insights from the negotiating table and will provide suggestions on how States’ officials should prepare for negotiating these agreements. She will shares her thoughts on what the content of those agreements should be, bearing in mind the interest of States but also new developments in the law of the sea and the concerns of the communities located on both sides of a maritime boundary. 

Although seemingly technical or mathematical, negotiating delimitation lines are really at the heart of the interests of States because such lines ultimately determine the extent of rights and obligations of States in exercising their sovereignty and rights in the sea, within their side of the line. In this chat, Lucia draws to light the legal, political, technical, historical, environmental, and economic elements involved in negotiating maritime delimitation agreements, which have turned this topic into one of the most studied not only by jurists, but hydrographers, geographers, cartographers, and other experts. 

From the experience of a career diplomat, she shares with us the important role diplomats and government officials play in negotiating these agreements on behalf of their States, and the need or pertinence of involving other actors or advisors; as well as the practice of Caribbean States in entering maritime delimitation agreements, having in mind the importance of historical, environmental, and economic considerations, among other, play in entering into these agreements.

You can watch the recording of this event here.

With regard to the peaceful settlement of disputes in the law of the sea, His Excellency Judge Kriangsak Kittichaisaree, Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (“ITLOS”), former Ambassador of Thailand, former member of the UN International Law Commission delivered a lecture entitled, ‘International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea: Upholding the Rule of Law’ which was premised on his new book with Oxford University Press: The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (Oxford University Press, 2021).

Judge Kittichaisaree’s lecture features this book which is one of the first books in the elements of international law series by Oxford University Press – which provides readers with a highly reliable, objective, readable and in-depth account of the subject using an objective, non-argumentative, approach. 

In the lecture, Judge Kittichaisaree discusses the Tribunal’s intended role as the main dispute settlement mechanism for the international law of the sea under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Settlement of Disputes Part of which is the most complicated dispute settlement regime of all currently existing international courts and tribunals. The pros and cons of resorting to the Tribunal as compared with other forums that may have concurrent jurisdiction will be explained. So will the Tribunal’s limitations and unutilized potentials in rendering advisory opinions and judgments in contentious cases, including in new fields such as human rights at sea as well sea-level rise.  

You can watch the recording of this event here.

On matters pertaining to maritime security, navigation, rights and duties of States in relation to the regime of international straits, Judge Ida Caracciolo, Judge of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Full Professor of International, Member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration for Italian National Group, Alternate Arbitrator in the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration of the OECD delivered a lecture entitled, ‘The regime of international straits – freedoms, rights and obligations at stake’:

International straits have always been important and strategic shipping routes for sea communication and world trade. Therefore, they received special attention by the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which tries to balance the different and opposing interests that are centred around straits: those of States using the straits and those of coastal States of the straits. The point of equilibrium has been reached with the introduction of the new regime of the transit passage in addition to the pre-existing regime of innocent passage and through an articulated set of rights and obligations of coastal States bordering the straits whose interpretation pose a continuous challenge to scholars and practitioners.

You can watch the recording of this event here.

And bringing forth cutting edge developments in relation to fishing in the high seas and the conservation of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, Osvaldo Urrutia, senior legal advisor to the Government of Chile in Fisheries and Ocean Affairs, and the former Chair of the Compliance for the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the former Chair of the South Pacific regional Fisheries Management Organization, former Chair of the Commission of the South Pacific regional Fisheries Management Organization, delivers a lecture entitled, ‘International law and the problems with high seas fishing – the future ahead’:

The challenges of high seas fishing seem endless. Fishing is an economic activity that causes severe impacts on marine biodiversity and ecosystems. This is no exception on the high seas: overfishing, bycatch, discards, harmful fishing practices that affect ecosystems, IUU fishing, and marine pollution from lost fishing gear are environmental impacts occurring every day “out of sight” in our seas. The legal, political, and operational difficulties of managing the high seas exacerbate these problems. The climate change crisis, triggering significant changes in ocean dynamics, will only worsen the uncertainties.

International law has been a critical factor in the dynamics of global fisheries, and the high seas are no exception. But is international law responding to the high seas? Why is the system not delivering? Do we need radical ideas for the future ahead, or can we improve the system with the current forces at work? This talk will discuss some legal challenges facing the high seas from two connected perspectives: regulatory and institutional. Is this a problem of lack of treaties, stagnant state practice or simply poor compliance? Critical for the future of high seas ecosystems are little, decentralised organisations called RFMOs, with significant responsibilities but overwhelmed by all sort of problems. Do they need reform or support? The talk will close by discussing the role that a future BBNJ Agreement may have in regulating high seas fishing.

You can watch the recording of this event here.

Earlier this year, Dr Meagan Wong and Dr Emily Jones from the School of Law, co-founded and co-convened a new lecture series on public international law: The Essex Public International Law Lecture Series. This is a weekly series which builds upon two important intellectual traditions of Public International Law: legal formalism and international legal practice; and international theory including postcolonial and feminist perspectives. Co-chaired by Dr Wong and Dr Jones, the series features judges of international courts and tribunals, leading academics, and practitioners of international law from governmental service, international organizations, and private practice from across the globe.

We welcome all students, academics, practitioners, and legal advisors to join us.