United Nations – The Nippon Foundation of Japan Special Strategic Fellowship

Award in Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea


Building catalytic capacity to address critical needs of the most vulnerable States


The Application Deadline for the 2016 Session has been extended to 9 December 2015



Overall Goal

Through the Fellowship the United Nations (Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs) and the Nippon Foundation assist States, particularly least developed States and Small Island Developing States, to strategically develop and implement at national level legal and governance frameworks for ocean affairs and the law of the sea.

Specific Purpose

Through the targeted and needs-based building of human capacity, the Strategic Award Fellowship reduces critical capacity barriers so as to enable the most vulnerable of States to better address strategically important and time-sensitive ocean affairs and the law of the sea issues they are faced with.


Government Officials will be trained at United Nations Headquarters in New York, by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, in a highly customized needs-based manner so that they will be better able to address strategically important and time sensitive issues faced by their State.


A highly customized individual curriculum is developed by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, in consultation with the nominating State, for the successful candidate(s). This personalized curriculum will place emphasis on building the capacity of the Fellow(s) to effectively address the high-priority needs identified by their States.

In addition, the Fellow(s) are trained in parallel to the ten United Nations – Nippon Foundation of Japan Fellows during their practicum phase with the Division. This parallel approach creates an enriched learning environment, providing the Strategic Fellow(s) the opportunity to gain an in-depth understanding of the legal regime established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and related agreements as well as of United Nations multilateral processes relating to oceans.

Through the delivery of presentations by recognized experts, United Nations staff, as well as through observing United Nations multilateral processes, the Fellow(s) learn about the main developments in ocean affairs and the law of the sea relating, for example, to the delineation of maritime zones, including continental shelf, sustainable fisheries, biodiversity

First Award

The first Special Strategic Fellowship was awarded in 2015 to Mr. Abubakar Mohamud Abubakar of the Federal Republic of Somalia.


Below is a testimonial provided by the Fellow:

“The Special Strategic Award of the United Nations – Nippon Foundation Fellowship Programme has prepared me well for my current position at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as an Adviser on Maritime and Ocean Affairs. The tremendous experience of research and training courses on ocean affairs and the law of the sea I have received as a Fellow has meant both career advancement and gain of professional capacities to assist my country on issues relating to Ocean Affairs within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Along with that, the Special Strategic Award is a very convenient program to build and advance knowledge on the law of the sea and also meet the urgent needs of my country of producing experts in the sector.”

Abubakar Mohamud Abubakar

beyond national jurisdiction, maritime security, sustainable ocean-based economies, the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, oceans and climate change, etc.They will also learn about the activities of the bodies established under UNCLOS (Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, International Seabed Authority, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea) and of relevant United Nations system organizations.The Fellows will observe relevant United Nations oceans and related meetings with a view to reinforce their understanding of ocean affairs and the law of the sea.

For example, during the 2016 session, Fellows can expect to observe:

§  The first meeting of the Preparatory Committee established by the General Assembly to make recommendations on the elements of a draft text of an international legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction;

§   The United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (ICP); and

§  The Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Professional skills development activities will also be organized for the Fellow(s), including theory lectures and practical exercises. In particular, the Fellows will receive training by UN staff as well as professional trainers on:

§  Report writing skills, which they will practice by preparing substantive reports of the intergovernmental meetings they attend;

§  Presentation skills, which they will practice through presentations to the other Fellows;

§  UN documents research skills;

§  Team building; and

§  Strategic communication.


States have been invited to nominate Government officials who are in the best position to effect rapid and positive changes after receiving training through the Fellowship. The deadline for submitting applications has been extended to 9 December 2015.



Candidates must meet all the following criteria:


- Between the ages of 25 and 40;

- Must have successfully completed a first university degree;

- Be a mid-level administrator from a national government organ of a developing coastal State, or another government related agency in such a State, which deals directly with ocean affairs issues, and your professional position must allow you to directly assist your nation in the formulation and/or implementation of policy in this area. This includes marine sciences and the science-policy linkage. The "Nomination and Recommendation Form" should be completed by a Government official who can attest to the nature of your work with respect to the Government's ocean affairs and law of the sea related activities, and indicate how an Award would directly contribute to these activities;

- The proposed research and study programme must contribute directly to your nation's formulation and/or implementation of ocean affairs and law of the sea policies and programmes; and

- Must be free of all non-Fellowship obligations during this entire period unless otherwise authorized by the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs.


Satisfaction of the above criteria must be clearly demonstrated by the candidate through the application forms and confirmed by a nominating authority.



The Fellowship application package consists of the following three forms:


1. The Personal History and Proposed Research/Study Programme Form (click to download in MS Word format)


This Form must be completed by the candidate, either typewritten or word processed. Each question must be answered clearly and completely in order to ensure that the application will be processed. While completing this form, candidates should pay particular attention to sections 18, 19 and 20. If necessary, candidates may attach no more than one additional page of the same size.


NOTE: Under section 21 indicate Special Strategic Award, and under section 23 note the Division is located in the United States of America.


--> Once this form is completed, it must be submitted by the candidate to the Nominating Authority along with:


2. The Nomination and Recommendation Form (click to download in MS Word format)


This form must be completed and signed by the official nominating entity and must clearly identify the time-sensitive strategic needs of the State and how the candidate will be in a position to directly affect positive change with respect to these needs.


--> Once completed, both the "Nomination and Recommendation Form" and the completed "Personal History and Proposed Research/Study Programme Form" must be forwarded to DOALOS through the nominating State’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.


3. The UN Medical Form (click to download in Adobe PDF format)


Obtaining medical clearance is a requirement of the awards process.


Note that at this stage of the process, candidates are not required to undergo a medical exam and to provide the extended medical forms and accompanying laboratory results and x-rays. This step will be required of the selected candidates within four (4) weeks of notification - their timely completion of this requirement will be a condition of the award.


DOALOS reserves the right not to process incomplete and/or late submissions.


Applications should be sent to:


E-mail (Preferred): DOALOS@un.org


The United Nations – Special Strategic Fellowship Programme

Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Office of Legal Affairs

United Nations, Room DC2-0450

New York, N.Y. 10017, U.S.A.



The decision to Award a Fellowship is made by a Special Strategic Award Fellowship Selection Committee, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Technical Cooperation Agreement which establishes the Fellowship Programme, and guided by the “Fellowship Selection Criteria” applied by the United Nations System Organizations.


Only successful candidates will be notified by DOALOS. The results will also be posted on the Fellowship website.


Please note that Awards are conditional on the fulfilment of all Fellowship requirements including, inter alia, obtaining United Nations Medical Clearance and the necessary visa(s).