23 December 2002


Press Release


NEW YORK, 23 December (Office of Legal Affairs) -- The Legal Counsel of the United Nations has made two awards under the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Memorial Fellowship on the Law of the Sea.  The regular seventeenth award was made to Maria Cristina Pereira of Cape Verde and a second, funded by a special grant from the United Kingdom, was made to Javier Plata González of Colombia.  The awards were made on the recommendation of the High-Level Advisory Panel composed of eminent persons in international relations and in the law of the sea and its implementation.

Ms. Pereira is a legal officer/political adviser with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where her responsibilities include preparing legal opinions and providing political advice on matters related to international negotiations on cooperation and development and participating in various national and international forums.  She plans to focus her study during the fellowship period to research on the Law of the Sea Convention, in particular its provisions on archipelagic States and maritime zones and compare them with Cape Verde’s legislation; at the same time she plans to link the research findings with the objectives established in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.  Ms. Pereira holds a masters degree in law.

Mr. Plata González, who was granted a special award based on a contribution to the fellowship fund by the United Kingdom, is a marine biologist specialized in industrial fishing at his country’s Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry.  He is involved in the coordination of programmes for marine fishing investigation and transfer of technology, the implementation of the code of conduct for fisheries in Colombia and the completion of an agreement to promote compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas.  Mr. Plata González holds degrees in marine biology and industrial fishing.  He intends to focus his course of study on the Law of the Sea Convention, in particular the exploitation and conservation of marine resources.

The Panel also recommended the following candidates in order of preference:  Mansoor Zafar of Pakistan, Nadia Mercedes Mendieta of Ecuador and Dionysia Avgerinopoulou of Greece.  Those alternate candidates were designated as “runners-up” in the event that the selected candidates do not accept the award.

The United Nations adopted, in 1982, the Convention on the Law of the Sea, a comprehensive and universally accepted international legal norm for matters governing the use of the oceans, as well as for the protection and preservation of the marine environment and its resources.  This year, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Convention in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on 10 December, was celebrated by two days of special session in the General Assembly (9-10 December).  The Fellowship was established in 1981 in memory of Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe of Sri Lanka, who served as the first President of the Conference.

The Amerasinghe Fellowship has been awarded annually since its establishment by the General Assembly.  Previous Fellows have represented nearly all regions of the world, coming from Barbados, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Sao Tome and Principe, Samoa, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, United Republic of Tanzania and Yugoslavia.

The Fellowship is intended primarily to improve the expertise of government officials, research fellows or academics who are involved in law of the sea or marine affairs and its main aim is to assist successful candidates in developing in-depth knowledge of specific provisions or special regimes part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, in order to promote overall, its wider appreciation and application, and to enhance specialized experience in those fields.

The specialized areas of studies chosen by past Fellows included maritime delimitation, methods for the determination of the outer limits of the continental shelf, maritime transport of hazardous materials, control of marine pollution, marine scientific research and the marine environment.

The Fellowship is part of the programme of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, and is one of the capacity-building programmes related to the teaching, study, dissemination and wider appreciation of international law.

This year's High-level Advisory Panel was composed of the following:  Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom; the Permanent Representative of South Africa, Dumisani Shadrack Kumalo; the Permanent Representative of France, Jean-David Levitte, the Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, Chithambaranathan Mahendran; the Permanent Representative of Jamaica, Stafford Oliver Neil; the Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China, Wang Yingfan; Professor John Norton Moore, Director, Center for Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia (Chairman), and Annick de Marffy, the Director of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs.

The programme, which includes a course of study at a participating university or institute and a period of practical experience at the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, is prized for the academic opportunity and the expertise it provides to the Fellows and for this reason, the Fellowship programme continues to attract a wide range of high-calibre applicants:  in 2002, 26 applications were received from all regions of the world.

Due to the high-calibre of applications received each year, the General Assembly has continually called on Member States and interested organizations, foundations and individuals to make voluntary contributions towards the financing of the Fellowship.  Such further contributions would enable the award of additional fellowships.

In the past year, Monaco and Cyprus have made financial contributions to the Fellowship fund, while the United Kingdom has, like in previous years, committed funds for special awards.

The participating universities that are involved in the Fellowship are:  Center for Oceans Law and Policy, University of Virginia, Charlottesville;

Dalhousie Law School, Halifax, Canada; Faculty of Law, University of Oxford, United Kingdom; Faculty of Law, University of Southampton, United Kingdom; Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland; Institute of International Studies, University of Chile, Santiago; International Boundaries Research Unit, University of Durham, United Kingdom; Marine Policy Center, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts; Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, University of Utrecht; Research Centre for International Law, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom; Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, Greece; School of Law, University of Georgia, Athens (State of Georgia, United States); School of Law, University of Miami, Florida; School of Law, University of Washington, Seattle, and William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, Honolulu.

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For information media. Not an official record.