International Law and Treaties

January 15, 2024
Photo session
Photo of the meeting
Group photo of participants

On January 15, commencing at 10:50 a.m. local time (same day, 6:50 p.m. JST) for approximately 60 minutes, Ms. KAMIKAWA Yoko, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan visited the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Hamburg, Germany, and held a meeting with Judge Tomas Heidar, President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The overview of the meeting is as follows. At the beginning of the meeting, President Heidar expressed his sympathy for the recent Noto Peninsula Earthquake, and Minister KAMIKAWA conveyed her gratitude and expressed her sympathy for the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, President Heidar’s home country.

  1. At the outset, Minister KAMIKAWA stated that she was honored to be the first Japanese Foreign Minister to visit ITLOS and congratulated President Heidar on his appointment as the President of ITLOS. Minister KAMIKAWA emphasized that Japan has consistently attaches importance to the "rule of law" at sea and that maritime disputes between states should be resolved peacefully based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), not by force or coercion, and she appreciated that ITLOS has played an important role in the "rule of law" at sea. Minister KAMIKAWA expressed her hope that ITLOS will further fulfill its role as the "guardian" of the maritime order based on the "rule of law”. Minister KAMIKAWA stated that Japan has constantly produced judges for ITLOS since its establishment, and is also working on human resources development including officials in the “Global South” in the field of international law, and will continue to support ITLOS in the future.
  2. In response, President Heidar expressed his appreciation for the personnel and financial support that Japan has provided to ITLOS and its contribution through participating in cases at ITLOS, and highly valued Japan's efforts to strengthen the "rule of law," such as through human resource development in “Global South” in the field of international law, including through ITLOS-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Program. They also shared the view on the importance of human resource development in the field of maritime law.
  3. In addition, Minister KAMIKAWA met with six young officials and researchers from countries including Africa and Latin America participating in the ITLOS-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Program, where Minister KAMIKAWA spoke about the importance of the "rule of law" at sea and expressed her expectation to the participants’ further active engagements.
(Reference1) ITLOS:International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
  1. ITLOS was established in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), in 1996 in Hamburg, Germany, with the mandate of judicial settlement of disputes related to the interpretation and application of the Convention. The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members (9-year term). UNCLOS entered into effect in 1994 and currently has 168 States and one region (EU) as State Parties. Japan ratified UNCLOS in 1996.
  2. To date, Japan has produced three members of ITLOS, Mr. YAMAMOTO Soji (from October 1, 1996, to September 30, 2005) , Mr. YANAI Shunji (from October 1, 2005, to September 30, 2023) and Mr. HORINOUCHI Hidehisa (from October 1, 2023- )
  3. Japan is the second largest contributor among the State Parties to UNCLOS, and contributed approximately 11% in 2023 (1.2 million euro, approximately 190 million yen).
(Reference2) ITLOS-Nippon Foundation Fellowship Program

A professional development program for the resolution of international maritime disputes, run by ITLOS with financial support from the Nippon Foundation. Since its launch in 2007, a total of 108 participants from 79 countries have taken part in the program.

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