Call for Papers – International Workshop “Developing Robust Ocean Regimes for Uncertain Futures”, 28 April 2023

International Workshop “Developing Robust Ocean Regimes for Uncertain Futures”

28 April 2023, Yong Pung How School of Law, Singapore Management University

In his 2022 Ho Rih Hwa Leadership Lecture at Singapore Management University, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister of Singapore, eloquently described a world that has entered a “long perfect storm”. Minister Shanmugaratnam highlights foreboding clouds of rising inflation and economic recession, food and energy crises, climate change, mass extinction, pandemics, geopolitical tensions. All of this foreshadows are going to be a new reality. The futures are no longer predictable. Rather, the international community is facing very uncertain global futures.

Our choices today impact the possible futures we may face. Therefore, it is crucial that contemporary international law is made with desirable futures in mind. When it comes to oceans, while international community celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, we are at a critical period of developing global ocean regimes: the United Nations Conference on Marine Biodiversity in Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement), the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and International Seabed Authority’s Mining Code are all shaping up at the same time.

The key research question of this workshop is not to examine what anthropogenic pressures or power shifts are affecting the law of the sea. Rather, it aims to answer the question of how global legal regimes should be developed to achieve a peaceful, healthy and sustainable ocean in uncertain futures. The workshop will address two categories of future scenarios. Firstly, the ‘known unknowns’, such as another pandemic, technological advancement at sea, mass extinction of marine species and the rise of China. Secondly, the workshop would particularly welcome papers which engage with ways to develop a resilient law of the sea that anticipates any unexpected risk or situation – so-called ‘unknown unknowns’. Examples could include futures methods and imaginative techniques.

Call for abstracts

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be emailed to Associate Professor Nengye Liu ( by 15 January 2023. Selected speakers will be notified by 15 February 2023. Generously funded by SMU Centre for Commercial Law in Asia and Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange,  this Conference is free of charge. Catering and a conference dinner will be provided for all speakers. However, it is expected that selected speakers and participants will cover their own travel and accommodation costs to Singapore. It is anticipated that an edited book from the Workshop will be published by a prominent publisher in 2024.

Keynote Speakers

Prof Shirley Scott, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, UNSW Canberra, Australia

Prof Alexander Proelss, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg, Germany

Prof Karen Scott, Faculty of Law, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

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