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Former Marine Studies students help raise profile of the Pacific Ocean

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Ms Fiona Indu and Dr Joytishna Jit at the UN General Assembly Hall.

Two former students of The University of the South Pacific (USP) recently returned to their tropical origins from the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York. Their return marks the completion of the prestigious nine-month United Nations Nippon Foundation Fellowship on the Law of the Sea.

Dr Joytishna Jit and Ms Fiona Indu were selected among only ten fellows from around the world for their outstanding submissions and their aptitude. Dr Jit was nominated for the fellowship by Associate Professor Joeli Veitayaki from USP’s School of Marine Studies, and Ms Indu was nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Solomon Islands. The fellowship is coordinated primarily by the UN’s Division of Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea (DOALOS) of the Office of Legal Affairs. 

The objective of the fellowship was to advance education and research in the field of ocean affairs, and to implement the legal regime set out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, 1982 (UNCLOS), and related instruments. UNCLOS is known as the constitution of the seas, and defines the rights and responsibilities of states in their use of the ocean.

Dr Jit’s thesis focused on threatened shark fisheries and conservation in the context of transboundary ocean governance, and she also completed a mini-project on biodiversity beyond national areas (BBNJs) in the Pacific Ocean. Ms Indu’s thesis was based on regional fisheries policy, in particular the Treaty between certain Pacific Island States and the United States on Fisheries. Her mini-project was focused on the role of development aid in fisheries treaty negotiations. These topics form some of the key challenges within Pacific oceans management at the present time.

The recent trend in international environmental law doctrine emphasises the need for effective implementation which is also reflected within the objectives of the 2012 Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. In particular, the fellows aimed to promote sustainable development by improving conservation and management of species for which the international legal regimes are fragmented leading to ineffective implementation by states.

Both Dr Jit and Ms Indu said that the fellowship provided an exciting and high profile introduction to international treaty law and processes within the UN system.

The UN Nippon Foundation fellowship allowed the two mid-career professionals to network with the international pool of experts within DOALOS, invited resource persons, and the UN Nippon fellowship alumni of 100 members. The alumni will continue to provide an ongoing platform for networking and collaboration. In fact, Dr Jit has been appointed the Deputy Representative of this alumni network.

The 2012/2013 program round was also special because it coincided with commemorative events held at the UN Headquarters to celebrate the 30th anniversary to mark the opening for signature of UNCLOS.  

The Pacific Fellows were able to participate in these events which were attended by highly respected individuals in the field of international ocean affairs, including the UN Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Mr Tommy Koh, President of the 3rd UN Conference on the Law of the Sea, H. E. Judge Shunji Yanai, and the President of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and from the Pacific, Mr Satya Nandan, the former Secretary-General of the International Seabed Authority (formerly from Fiji).


This news item was published on 6 Mar 2013 08:58:58 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email

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