ITLOS President Lectures at WMU

On 6 October, the World Maritime University welcomed the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), Hon. Judge Albert J. Hoffmann, who delivered a seminal lecture to the Class of 2023 entitled "UNCLOS as the Constitution of the Oceans". The lecture forms an integral part of the Foundation Studies course on “The IMO System of Maritime Governance”.

In her welcome remarks, Dr Cleopatra Doumbia–Henry, WMU President, emphasized the importance of understanding international law and the constitutional and institutional framework developed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), particularly given the global turbulent events unfolding at the current time. She warmly welcomed the contribution of Judge Hoffman to share his expertise on the subject to enrich the education of WMU’s future maritime and ocean leaders. 

Judge Hoffman’s lecture provided the wider context and fundamental provisions of UNCLOS with an aim to guide the students to a better understanding of the structure of the Convention. His presentation covered the Convention’s historical background, an outline of its salient features, and a highlight of the special nature of the Convention. In conclusion, he offered his thoughts on the future challenges facing the Law of the Sea and the role to be played by the Convention. 

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) is an independent judicial body established by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. It has jurisdiction over any dispute concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, and over all matters specifically provided for in any other agreement which confers jurisdiction on the Tribunal. Disputes relating to the Convention may concern the delimitation of maritime zones, navigation, conservation and management of the living resources of the sea, protection and preservation of the marine environment and marine scientific research.

Judge Hoffmann was elected President of ITLOS in 2020. He is originally from Johannesburg, South Africa where he studied at the University of Johannesburg and later sat for his LLM at the University of Pretoria. His career began as an Advocate of the Supreme Court of South Africa in 1983. He then moved to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where he spent the following sixteen years as a Law Adviser. Later, he served as Legal Adviser and Chief Director of the Permanent Mission of South Africa to the United Nations in New York (1999-2005). He has served as a Judge at the Tribunal since 2005 and was re-elected in 2014. Judge Hoffmann has lectured and published extensively.

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