ITLOS - Nippon Foundation Capacity Building and Training Programme

ITLOS-Nippon Foundation Capacity-Building and Training Programme on Dispute Settlement under UNCLOS

In cooperation with the Nippon Foundation, the Tribunal runs an annual capacity-building and training programme on dispute settlement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea ('UNCLOS').

The full-time programme, which runs for nine months and begins in July each year, takes place at the seat of the Tribunal in Hamburg, Germany.

The programme is aimed at junior to mid-level government officials and researchers currently working on issues related to the law of the sea or dispute settlement. It provides participants with a unique opportunity to develop their legal skills and deepen their practical knowledge of dispute settlement in the law of the sea under UNCLOS.

All participants' costs, including travel, accommodation, medical insurance and a monthly allowance, are covered by the Nippon Foundation.

>> Flyer


The capacity-building programme consists of four main pillars: lectures; training; study visits; and research.

» Lectures

A series of lectures takes place throughout the nine months of the programme. Lectures are generally held over the course of two days, offering the fellows the possibility of close debate with the lecturers. The faculty of lecturers is drawn from the Tribunal (Judges and Registry officials), United Nations organs, universities, law firms and other relevant institutions.

At the beginning of the programme, the fellows take part in the four-week Summer Academy of the International Foundation for the Law of the Sea. This course focuses on law of the sea and maritime law and is attended by around 40 young professionals from around the world working in the fields of law of the sea and maritime law.

Some examples of lectures given during recent programmes are:

Dispute settlement under UNCLOS and the Tribunal

  • The mechanism for the settlement of disputes under Part XV of UNCLOS with a special focus on ITLOS
  • Contentious and advisory proceedings
  • Giving evidence before international courts and tribunals
  • Provisional measures

International organizations and the law of the sea

  • The role of international organizations in the implementation of UNCLOS
  • The work of the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs, United Nations
  • The mandate and work of the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf under UNCLOS
  • The interaction between the International Seabed Authority and the Tribunal

Current issues related to the law of the sea

  • Law of maritime delimitation
  • Law of the sea and human rights
  • The Arctic and UNCLOS
  • The establishment of the limits of the continental shelf
  • Fisheries management
  • Maritime security
  • Marine scientific research 

International environmental law

  • General principles of international environmental law
  • UNCLOS and the Regional Seas Programmes
  • The precautionary principle and the protection of the marine environment
  • Climate change and the law of the sea
  • Biodiversity and protection of ecosystems

Maritime law lecture series

  • International commercial arbitration in maritime matters
  • Ship registration

International law lecture series

  • The United Nations system
  • Sustainable management of the ocean ecosystem
  • State responsibility
  • Law of treaties

» Training

Training sessions, workshops, and mock cases are arranged in order to enhance the practical and professional skills of the fellows. 

The programme offers training in negotiation and mediation. Workshops are organized to prepare the fellows for their potential role as agents, counsel, or legal advisers in cases before international courts and tribunals. The tools used for this purpose include exercises in drafting documents relating to cases, attendance at oral proceedings at the Tribunal, the International Court of Justice or the Permanent Court of Arbitration, and presentation skills using audio-visual tools. Mock cases are also held, as well as training in maritime delimitation, including an introductory course for the use of delimitation software.

Examples of training courses given during recent programmes are:

  • Techniques and procedures in international environmental law (UNITAR online course)
  • Training in negotiation in maritime delimitation consultations
  • Geographic information in delimitation and GIS tools 
  • CARIS Lot Limits and Boundaries: delimitation software training
  • Case preparation

Special seminars are also arranged on the jurisprudence of the Tribunal.

»  Study visits

Group visits of between two and five days complement the knowledge gained and training given in dispute settlement and issues/topics related to the law of the sea. Accompanied by a legal officer, the fellows are given exclusive access to experts from the institutions and have the chance to attend hearings or meetings.

In previous years, the following visits have been organized for the fellows:

Belgium: Brussels

France: Brest

Germany: Berlin, Bremen, Cuxhaven, Hamburg, Hanover, Kiel

The Netherlands: The Hague

United Kingdom: London

» Research

Research on law of the sea disputes and other ocean matters relevant to governments and institutions of the participants is an integral part of the training. After a training session on legal research methodology, the fellows undertake research using the library facilities of both the Tribunal and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg.

Collaborating institute

An integral part of the capacity-building and training programme on dispute settlement under UNCLOS is the cooperative arrangement with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg, where the fellows spend six weeks working on their research papers. The fellows have access to one of the world's most comprehensive collections of public international law texts. Lectures on issues of public international law are also held at the Institute.


Participants’ costs, including travel, accommodation, medical insurance and a monthly subsistence allowance, are covered by the Nippon Foundation.

Participants are responsible for obtaining a visa for Germany for the period of the programme at their own cost, although assistance may be provided in order to facilitate the visa application process. Visas for the study visits are arranged by the programme coordinator and the costs covered by the programme.

During the programme, the fellows become part of the ITLOS community and are fully integrated in the life of the Registry for nine months. They interact with staff, Judges and participants of the other training programmes run at the Tribunal. As ITLOS alumni, the fellows join a growing network of young professionals from around the world working in the field.

Fellows are provided with a fully equipped office with computer, printer and Internet connection for the duration of the programme. Fellows have access to the Tribunal’s specialized Library, which houses a comprehensive collection on the law of the sea and related subjects, such as maritime law, environmental law, ocean affairs, coastal management, international courts and tribunals, international organizations, dispute settlement, arbitration, and general issues of public international law.

Accommodation in the vicinity of the Tribunal is provided in studio apartments, with a bedroom/sitting area, kitchen and bathroom.

During their first weeks in Hamburg, the fellows are introduced to life in Germany and given German language classes. Language training in either English or French may also be provided.


Since the programme began in 2007, we have welcomed 64 fellows from 54 States. They are now part of the ITLOS Alumni Network.