ISA CONFERENCE | Women in the Law of the Sea

March-June 2022 (dates to be confirmed)

WILOS 2022 call

Download the conference flyer

Background and rationale

On 10 December 2022, the international community will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This also provides a timely opportunity to celebrate the particular contribution of women to the progressive development of the law of the sea as reflected in UNCLOS and related instruments. As part of a series of events to be organized in 2022, ISA will organize a 3-day conference aimed at shining a light on the important contribution of women to the law of the sea, the participation of women in the institutions created by UNCLOS and related regional and sub-regional organizations and the pathways to enhancing the potential for women to contribute to the law of the sea in the future.

The conference is anticipated to be organized in the second quarter of 2022 and organized by the ISA Secretariat, most probably in a virtual format, and co-chaired by two eminent women legal experts.

This conference is intended to provide an opportunity to hear primarily from women legal experts working in the field of the law of the sea, from all regions and from diverse backgrounds. In order to enable a wide range of women experts to be able to contribute to this unique event, ISA will issue a call for expression of interest inviting all interested speakers to submit a short description of the proposed presentation under one of the suggested sessions, and a CV.

The organizing committee will then proceed with the selection of speakers on the basis of relevance, geographic representation and with the aim of ensuring a fair representation of diverse profiles. Speakers from developing States and in particular from Least Developed Countries (LDCS), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCS) and Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) are particularly encouraged to participate.

The contributions will be collected in a book released as proceedings.

Expression of interest

Any application should be sent to eosg@isa.org.jm no later than 11 February 2022 and be comprised of

  • a short description of the proposed presentation under one of the sessions listed below (max 500 words);
  • a curriculum vitae.

All expressions of interest and all documents should be in English or French.

Selected speakers will be informed at least 2 months before the date of the event to ensure preparation of their contribution.

Sessions

The conference will offer the opportunity to take stock, from the perspective of women, of the important achievements of UNCLOS as part of the global system for global system for peace and security of which the Charter of the United Nations is the foundation. Speakers will be encouraged to reflect on some of the main challenges that have prevented its full and effective implementation, how this fundamental governance regime can address new challenges and imperatives in the future, and how the role and participation of women in its implementation can be enhanced.

Session I: Impact of UNCLOS in the development of international law

This session would aim at providing an overview of the impact of UNCLOS on the development of international law, from a global and regional perspectives. That would be the opportunity to look at sectoral competent organizations with law-making powers as well as how regional organizations complement and support the provisions of UNCLOS. It could also be the opportunity to touch on the relation between the law of the sea and other fields of international law.

Session II: Maritime delimitations

Under session II, the conference will focus on the importance of UNCLOS for the process of delimitation of maritime areas and should be the opportunity to also explore some of the main challenges encountered in that respect.

Session III: Military uses of the sea

This session would focus on the principle of “peaceful uses of the seas “as well as the importance of UNCLOS in the global system for peace and security.

Session IV: Marine scientific research and transfer of technology

Marine scientific research is a fundamental element of the governance regime established by UNCLOS. This session would then focus on offering an overview of the practical implications attached to the implementation of the provision of UNCLOS pertaining to this type of activities. Consideration will also be given to discuss the issue of transfer of technology and the different challenges faced in the operationalization of the relevant provisions contained in UNCLOS.

Session V: Protection of the marine environment

It is generally agreed that UNCLOS contains the general and most comprehensive rules for the protection and preservation of the marine environment. This session would therefore offer the opportunity to look at specific fields of activities (shipping, fisheries, oil and gas, deep-seabed mining…) through the lens of the regulatory framework in place to protect and preserve the marine environment while enabling the sustainable development of competing uses of the ocean with a specific emphasis on the complementary and sometimes competition created between UNCLOS and regional or sectoral frameworks.

Session VI: Sustainable management of ocean space and its resources within and beyond national jurisdictions

Session VI would be the opportunity to discuss in depth the role of UNCLOS as a foundation for the development of the concept of sustainable development through concrete example pertaining to the management of ocean space and their resources both within and beyond jurisdiction. This could then be the opportunity to look at specific activities (shipping, submarine cables, deep-seabed mining etc.) and analyze the anticipated impact of two major negotiations taking currently place, namely: intergovernmental conference for the development and adoption of an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (ILBI) and; the draft regulations for the exploitation of minerals of the Area (ISA Mining Code).

Session VII: Settlement of disputes

The main purpose of this session will be to discuss the main characteristics and problems arising out of the use and interpretation of compulsory procedures entailing binding decisions in the settlement of disputes system established under UNCLOS.

Session VIII: UNCLOS and opportunities for developing States

Many provisions of UNCLOS provide specific rights to developing States in order to ensure that they can fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the different uses of the ocean it regulates. Therefore, this session should focus on highlighting the specific provisions contained in UNCLOS but as well concrete examples and challenges encountered by developing States in exercising these rights.

Session IX: Enhancing the participation of women in the law of the sea

This last session will be the opportunity to reflect on current level of representation of women in the institutions of UNCLOS as well as the existing and future opportunities for women in the law of the sea. This session will also feature some key findings and recommendations drawn from the commitment of ISA in advancing women empowerment and leadership in deep-sea research particularly women scientists from LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS.

 

For any enquiries, please contact Dr. Marie Bourrel-McKinnon, Senior Policy Officer, Executive Office of the Secretary General (mbourrel@isa.org.jm).