by Douglas B. Stevenon, Esq., Director, Center for Seafarers’ Rights
I recently traveled to Malta to present lectures on seafarers’ rights law and on the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC, 2006) to 37 students from 27 different countries at the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). The IMLI, located on the campus of the University of Malta, specializes in preparing lawyers (primarily from developing countries) for leadership positions in the field of maritime law.
During my lectures, I stressed the importance of merchant shipping to the world’s economy. I emphasized shipping’s dependence on attracting skilled men and women to seagoing careers and the value added by having qualified advocates. Governments and lawmakers must enact legislation to make the maritime industry a safe and enticing place for seafarers to work. I enjoyed getting the opportunity to speak with students about their research projects and the ways they hoped to contribute to the welfare of their country’s citizens and the prosperity of international commerce.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) established IMLI in 1988 to assist developing countries with the cultivation of shipping and port industries. By training lawyers from those countries, the IMO hopes to help protect the marine environment and aid the incorporation of international conventions into domestic law. Graduates of IMLI’s intensive maritime law program are awarded a degree of Masters of Laws (LL.M) in International Law. IMLI also offers individual research programs leading to a degree of Magister Juris (M.Jur.) in International Maritime Law and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in International Maritime Law.