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Southampton Law School

Dr Alexandros X.M. Ntovas speaks at the United Nations International Maritime Organization

Published: 17 April 2023
Dr Ntovas gives seminar

On 17 April 2023, the Secretary-General of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) convened at IMO Headquarters a seminar on Legal Issues relating to Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS), including matters arising from the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The seminar was held in conjunction with the second session of the Joint Maritime Safety – Legal – Facilitation Committees of the MASS Working Group (MASS-JWG 2)

Participation in this event was open to representatives from Member States, observer organizations (intergovernmental and non-governmental) and the United Nations and its specialized agencies. The seminar was moderated by the Director of Legal and External Affairs Mr Frederick Joseph Kenney Jr., Dr Ntovas sat on the panel with Dr. Kristine Elfrida Dalaker, (Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea, UiT The Arctic University of Norway) and discussed the relationship between MASS and UNCLOS. Further information about the programme can be found here .

Dr Ntovas was invited to expound on his functional interpretation of UNCLOS, which is part of his recent and ongoing research work recently published in Functionalism and Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships in J. Kraska & Y. Park (Eds.), Emerging Technology and the Law of the Sea (pages 214-242). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press . In this research, Dr Ntovas proposes a novel interpretative account that functionally constructs the UNCLOS requirement of ship manning. The legal rationale underlying the argument in favour of functional flexibility is informed by the international regulatory developments at the level of the International Maritime Organization and considers that technological progress is best served by the emerging law-making philosophy of setting goal-based standards. The posited methodology further proposes that the functional interpretation of manning shall be linked to a test for reviewing the flag state margin of discretion in the context of the obligation to take measures toward achieving and maintaining comprehensive safety at sea for autonomous ships.

At the seminar Dr Ntovas was invited to reflect on the Outcome of discussions on MASS at LEG 110 (27-31 March 2023), as well as the Outcome of the Legal Committee’s Regulatory Scoping Exercise on MASS, and the MASS JWG Working Paper 2.

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