Professor Oxman Chosen as Judge for International Tribunal on Maldives/Mauritius Dispute


Professor Bernard Oxman

Professor Bernard Oxman

Professor Bernard Oxman, director of Miami Law’s LL.M. in Maritime Law has been appointed as a judge ad hoc of the Special Chamber constituted by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. He will hear the dispute between the Republic of Maldives and the Republic of Mauritius concerning the delimitation of the maritime boundary in the Indian Ocean.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention. It is composed of elected members “from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognized competence in the field of the law of the sea.”

Oxman previously served as judge ad hoc of the Tribunal in the Land Reclamation dispute between Malalysia and Singapore, and in the Bay of Bengal maritime delimitation dispute between Bangladesh and Myanmar, and as judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, in the Black Sea maritime delimitation dispute between Romania and Ukraine.

Oxman is the only American ever appointed to serve on both courts.

The tribunal announced the Mauritius and Maldives’ submission of the special agreement and notification in the ongoing dispute concerning the boundary on September 24, 2019. The parties agreed to transfer the arbitral proceedings instituted on 18 June 2019 by Mauritius under Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to a special chamber of the Tribunal during consultations with Tribunal President Paik, held at the tribunal headquarters in Hamburg on September 17, 2019.

By Order of 27 September 2019, the Tribunal formed a special chamber to deal with the dispute. The Special Chamber consists of President Paik (Republic of Korea), who will preside over the Special Chamber, as well as Tribunal Judges Jesus (Cabo Verde), Cot (France), Yanai (Japan), Bouguetaia (Algeria), Heidar (Iceland) and Chadha (India), and two members specially chosen by the parties. Maldives chose Oxman. Mauritius stated that it will make its choice in due course. Like elected members of the Tribunal, judges ad hoc make a solemn declaration that they will exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously, and participate equally in the decision of the case.

Oxman holds the Richard A. Hausler endowed chair at Miami Law, where he directs its graduate program in Maritime Law. A recipient of the University Senate’s Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award, he is a member of the Institut de Droit International, the American Law Institute, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and served for a decade as co-editor in chief of the American Journal of International Law.

Following active duty at the Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Professor Oxman was appointed the first Assistant Legal Adviser for Oceans, Environment, and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, and served as United States Representative to the Third U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea, where he chaired the English Language Group of the Conference Drafting Committee.

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