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World Oceans Day: Spotlight on the Law of the Sea

In May 2018, Dr Sofia Galani participated in the International Symposium on “Maritime Security and the Belt and Road Initiative: European Perspectives” at UCLan.

Press release issued: 8 June 2018

In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly decided that, as of 2009, 8 June would be celebrated as “World Oceans Day”. Ten years later, World Oceans Day is a reminder of the major role the oceans have in our everyday life. To celebrate this year’s World Oceans Day, we look at some of the Law School's research activities on the law of the sea and maritime security.

Dr Sofia Galani has been providing expertise on the protection of human rights at sea and maritime security at academic and policy level and has been supporting charity work in the field. She has also sought to share her passion about the understanding and protection of the oceans with her students.

Maritime Crime: Maritime crime, such as piracy, human trafficking and illegal fishing, pose a serious threat to the international trade and the marine environment. Dr Sofia Galani has been invited to contribute to the UNODC Global Maritime Programme. Her research on the protection of human rights at sea and kidnapping will feature in the forthcoming UNODC Maritime Crime: A Manual for Criminal Justice Practitioners, and she will contribute to the discussions on maritime crime organised by the UNODC in Sri Lanka in June 2018. In January, Sofia also gave a talk at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on Maritime (In-Security) and Human Rights at Sea supporting the Institute’s World Affairs series.

Belt Road Initiative (BRI): The BRI is an immensely ambitious development aimed at boosting trade. Part of the investments will be on the Maritime Silk Road. The prospects and risks of BRI are expected to provoke interesting policy and academic debate in the coming years. In May 2018 Dr Sofia Galani was invited to discuss human security and human rights at sea and explore the threats posed to human security in the Maritime Silk Road in an international symposium organised by the University of Central Lancashire and supported by the Chinese Embassy in the UK.

Piracy and the Maritime Industry: Piracy continues to pose threats to the safety of seafarers and international trade. While the numbers of Somali pirate attacks remain low, there has been a surge in attacks in South East Asia, West Africa and the Caribbean. In May 2018, Dr Sofia Galani’s Q&A on ‘Piracy – the human rights (and wrongs)’ was included in the newsletter of Navigate Response, a global crisis communications network specialising in the international shipping, port and offshore industries. The aim of the Q&A was to keep the maritime industry informed of the piracy challenges.

Student Opportunities: The Law of the Sea and Maritime Security units offer to LLM students at Bristol the opportunity to study a wide range of issues relating to the oceans. In addition, our students have been involved in student-led projects on human rights at sea ran by the Human Rights Implementation Centre in collaboration with the UK-based charity Human Rights at Sea.

Dr Sofia Galani commented:

"As about 70% of the Earth’s surface is water-covered and 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the oceans are a major source of life and economic opportunities. Improving our understanding and raising awareness of the use and protection of the oceans can have a significant impact on our everyday life, and I feel privileged to be able to contribute to this through my research."

Further information

Dr Sofia Galani is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Bristol Law School. She has been conducting research on modern piracy; maritime security; terrorism studies; and human rights. She is currently co-editing with Professor Sir Malcolm Evans a collection on maritime security and the law of the sea (Maritime Security and the Law of the Sea: Help or Hindrance? to be published by Edward Elgar) and writing her first monograph on hostage-taking and human rights (Hostages and Human Rights: Towards a Victim-Centred Approach? to be published by CUP). She is also the module leader for the LLM unit on Maritime Security.

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