African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy



Background and rationale

In July 2023, the Assembly of the International Seabed Authority (ISA) approved a Memorandum of Understanding between ISA and the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC), a governmental entity established to deliver diplomatic courses for African diplomats in both English and French.

Through the partnership established under the Memorandum of Understanding, ISA and IRIC will cooperate in the planning and implementation of specific training activities with a focus on Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Agreement. Such activities will encourage and facilitate cooperation with African States in matters relating to the work and mandate of ISA.

This partnership foresees the creation of a dedicated curriculum on the law of the sea for African diplomats to be jointly managed by ISA and IRIC with a view to support the development of enhanced knowledge and expertise of African countries.

At its meeting in January 2024, the Board of the ISA Partnership Fund, a multidonor trust fund established by the ISA Assembly at its 27th session, decided to allocate a grant to the African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy, a training course to be carried out under the Memorandum of Understanding between ISA and IRIC aimed at implementing its main objectives.



The African Academy for Deep Sea Diplomacy is intended to provide training to diplomats from English and French-speaking African countries in the field of the law of the sea, with particular reference to the regime of the Area under Part XI of UNCLOS.

It is anticipated that the training would spread over three weeks in total, including two weeks of in-person training carried out in Cameroon, and would be designed to facilitate the acquisition by African diplomats of expertise in matters relating to the work and mandate of ISA.

In particular, the Academy is expected to be structured around the following training blocks:



This training activity will be provided using a blended learning approach.

Following agreement on the dates of the training, a call for applications will be issued by the ISA Secretariat with a view to select a maximum of 20 diplomats from African countries. Preference will be given to early-career diplomats and government officials with a direct professional interest in the fields related to the law of the sea and following ISA-related matters. In line with ISA commitment to advance gender equality, priority will be recognised to qualified female candidates.

It is proposed that the selection of the candidates be done through a selection committee established jointly by ISA and IRIC.

Ahead of in-person training, selected participants will be granted access to an ad hoc module of the Deep Dive e-learning platform, dealing with key concepts and principles of Part XI UNCLOS. Lessons available in the module – recorded by renewed experts in the relevant fields – will be complemented by selected learning materials and followed by a short final test.

The second part of the course will take place in Cameroon, tentatively at the seat of IRIC, and will last two weeks. The ISA Secretariat will cover the costs pertaining to the attendance of the course (which includes a return air ticket in economic class and a daily subsistence allowance as calculated by the International Civil Service Commission) of selected trainees.

Training schedule

Before the in-person training in Cameroon, all participants will be requested to take part in an introductory module hosted on the ISA e-learning platform Deep Dive. Developed within the framework of the ISA Capacity Development Strategy, Deep Dive is the first and the only e-learning training platform exclusively devised to address all elements of the legal regime in Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1994 Implementation Agreement, including technical and scientific aspects.

This ad hoc module of Deep Dive is designed to enhance the capacity of government officials, diplomats, and practitioners from Member States to understand and implement the legal regime of the Area and the different elements pertaining to the conduct of activities in the Area.

This module, with an estimated duration of 36 academic learning hours, is self-paced but needs to be concluded before the start of in-person training. Trainees will be requested to complete a test at the end of each lecture and to sit a final test to be awarded with a completion certificate.

Trainees will be unable to proceed to the in-person training unless that have successfully completed the Deep Dive module.

List of lecturers

  • Akuila Tawake, Chief CARMU, ISA
  • Dale Squires, Professor, University of San Diego
  • Eden Charles, Interim Director General of the Enterprise, ISA
  • Elie Jarmache, Former LTC Member, ISA
  • Erasmo Lara Cabrera, Chair, LTC
  • Fernanda Millicay, Permanent Representative of Argentina to IMO
  • Giovanni Ardito, Associate Policy Officer, ISA
  • Jose Dallo Moros, Director, ISA
  • Joshua Tuhumwire, Member, LTC
  • Khalilah Hackman, Minister Counsellor, Legal Adviser, Permanent Mission of Ghana to the UN
  • M Ahidjo, Premier Counseller, Permanent Mission of Cameroon to the UN
  • Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, Chief of Staff and Head of Strategic Planning Unit, ISA
  • Maurice K. Kamga, Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  • Michael W. Lodge, Secretary-General, ISA
  • Michael Wood, Barrister, Twenty Essex
  • Noemie Wouters, Programme Coordinator (Marine Scientific Research), ISA
  • Pedro Madureira, Professor, Evora university
  • Rudiger Wolfrum, Former President, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  • Saleem Ali, Professor, University of Delaware
  • Sven Petersen, Research Scientist, GEOMAR
  • Thembile Elphus Joyini, Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  • Theophile Ndougsa Mbarga, Member, LTC
  • Ulrich Schwarz-Schampera, Programme Management Officer (Mining Geologist), ISA