Apr 21 2009 Posted: 00:00 IST
The role played by NUI Galway in training a new generation of ocean leaders, diplomats and lawyers was highlighted at an international meeting of Law of the Sea Alumni in Tokyo. This training is carried out under the auspices of the United Nations Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme which aims to promote capacity building in law of the sea and ocean affairs for mid-career professionals from developing countries. Since 2004 the programme has trained 50 government officials from 41 countries by collaborating with 38 prestigious universities worldwide with expertise in the field of oceans law. NUI Galway has participated in the programme since its inauguration and has hosted career diplomats from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs in Bangladesh, Mozambique and Myanmar over a three year period. On completion of their training in NUI Galway under the supervision of Dr Ronán Long at the University's School of Law, the research fellows undertake advanced training at the United Nations Legal Division in New York prior to returning to their government posts. The primary purpose of the Tokyo meeting was to share experience regarding the training programme as well as to review international best practice on the implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The meeting was hosted by the Nippon Foundation of Japan and co-organised by the Ocean Policy and Research Foundation with briefings at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and at Tokyo University. The meeting was opened by the Chairman of the Nippon Foundation, Mr Yohei Sasakawa, who shared his vision for greater international collaboration to ensure the peaceful and sustainable use of the oceans. In his address the Chairman underlined the importance his foundation placed on the training and education of a future generation of ocean leaders capable of addressing the pressing challenges faced in the ocean environment. This was followed by detailed briefings on the current law and policy challenges faced in the region including piracy, continental shelf delimitation, fisheries and coastal zone management. The new Director of the Ocean Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Koichi Ai, addressed the group on Japanese foreign policy concerning the oceans and placed special emphasis on the key role played by the participating educational institutes in the fellowship programme. The group received an in-depth briefing from the Executive Director of the Ocean Policy and Research Foundation, Mr Hiroshi Terashima, on the innovative and pragmatic approach taken by Japan in formulating the recently enacted Basic Act on Ocean Policy. Former Assistant Director-General of the FAO and eminent scholar Professor Emeritus Moritaka Hayashi provided an overview of the progress made by Japan in implementing the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Dr Ronán Long from the School of Law at NUI Galway briefed the group on recent developments in European law and policy and reaffirmed Ireland's commitment to the next phase of professional development of the young diplomats through the establishment of a network of legal experts for the Asia Pacific region. The four days of meetings concluded with the participants from 15 countries agreeing a plan of action aimed at enhancing international cooperation on critical ocean law issues in the Asia Pacific Ocean region.