Webinar: Successes and failures of UNCLOS

This was the inaugural seminar in Volterra Fietta’s seminar series to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (referred to as UNCLOS).


2022 marks another anniversary of the opening of signature of the 1982 UNCLOS.  40 years and nearly 170 State parties later, it still forms the basic legal framework for the law of the sea, covering issues from navigation, piracy and maritime boundaries.


Volterra Fietta’s first instalment of its seminar series considered the successes and failures of UNCLOS over these 40 years of existence.  The distinguished speakers were all prominent experts on the law of the sea and deal with UNCLOS both professionally and academically.


The distinguished panel of speakers were:


Malcolm Evans: Professor Sir Malcolm Evans is a professor of public international law at the University of Bristol where he has taught for over 25 years.  His areas of specialism include the international law of the sea and international human rights protection.  He is the editor of “International Law”, a renowned textbook on public international law, for which he has authored the chapter on the law of the sea.  In 2021, he also provided evidence to the UK House of Lords International Relations and Defence Committee in response to its inquiry on whether UNCLOS is fit for purpose.


Nilüfer Oral: Professor Oral is the Director of the Centre for International Law at the National University of Singapore.  She is  a member of the United Nations International Law Commission and co-chair of the Study Group on Sea-level rise in relation to international law.  She served as a legal advisor to the Turkish Foreign Ministry for law of the sea and as a climate change negotiator.  Professor Oral has published widely on the law of the sea.  She is also a Distinguished Fellow of the Law of the Sea Institute at UC Berkeley Law and has lectured at, among other places, the Rhodes Academy for the Law of the Sea.


Alex G. Oude Elferink: Professor Oude Elferink is the Director of the Netherlands Institute of the Law of the Sea and professor of international law of the sea at Utrecht University.  He is also an adjunct professor at the K.G. Jebsen Centre for the law of the sea, University of Tromsø, Norway.  He previously worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nicaragua and represented Nicaragua in a number of cases before the International Court of Justice.  He has published on numerous law of the sea matters, such as maritime boundary delimitation, the law of the sea in the Polar regions and the definition and outer limits of the continental shelf and he is the co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of the Law of the Sea.


Martins Paparinskis: Dr. Paparinskis is Reader in Public International Law at University College of London. He is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, a conciliator of the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, a member of the ICSID Panels of Arbitrators and of Conciliators, and a member of the UNECE Water Convention’s Implementation Committee. Last November, Dr. Paparinskis was elected as a member of the United Nations International Law Commission for the 2023-2027 quinquennium. He has published widely on public international law issues.


The seminar was moderated by Robert Volterra.  Mr Volterra is a partner at Volterra Fietta and visiting professor of law at University College London.  Mr Volterra advises and represents governments, international organisations and private clients on a wide range of public international law issues, including the law of the sea.  Mr Volterra regularly acts as co‑agent, counsel and advocate before the International Court of Justice and ad hoc international arbitration tribunals, including under the PCA, ICSID, ICC, SCC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, WTO and UNCLOS rules.  Mr Volterra is on the UK Attorney General’s A-list for public international law practitioners.


For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email Robert Volterra at or Florentine Vos at