Professor Ingrid Ulrikke Jakobsen is the new director of the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea

We met the new director to learn more about her and her vision for NCLOS.

Professor Ingvild Ulrikke Jakobsen has recently taken on the role as leader of the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea Photo: Sondre Sollid

Who is Ingvild Ulrikke Jakobsen?

- I was born and raised in Tromsø, and studied Russian language before I started on the Master’s degree in Law at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway. After completing my master's thesis on environmental law, I started working at the Faculty of Law, first as a lecturer and then as a PhD fellow. While I was working on my dissertation, I gave birth to three children, which is perhaps the unofficial Norwegian record, says Jakobsen and laughs.

Writing a PhD dissertation and at the same time taking care of three small children was not always easy, but in 2010 Jakobsen defended her dissertation on “Marine Protected Areas in International Law: A Norwegian perspective” and was awarded the degree of PhD in law. - Even if it was hard at times to complete my dissertation, I see that I did learn a lot as a person, researcher and as research leader, she states.

After completing her PhD, Jakobsen held several different positions at the UiT, including serving as Associate Professor, Professor, Vice Dean for research and Deputy Leader at the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea. In addition, Jakobsen has been an acting judge in the Hålogaland Court of Appeals.

The experience as a judge is invaluable to Jakobsen considers. - It was very useful and rewarding to practice law outside academia. I have especially learned to appreciate the importance of having independent courts that guarantee the rights of our citizens.  

- When you are working as a judge you get closer to society and people than you do as a legal researcher. The experience of making decisions that have great significance for those affected by it, and also in taking responsibility for such decisions, is also a valuable experience for me, when I now take on the leadership role at the Law of the Sea Centre, Jakobsen reflects.

The experience from the appeal court has also increased professor Jakobsen’s awareness of the value and importance of legal writing and research, especially legal writing as a tool for the courts and the judges when they solve disputes and make their decisions. - Although legal literature is not a primary source of law when judges write their decisions, legal scholars have an important role in systematizing the material, describing relevant sources of law, and highlighting important considerations, principles, and perspectives.

- The more complex the law is, the more need for legal writing and research. The law of the sea is a complex field of law, both because it includes various international legal sources and principles, and because it is constantly evolving in line with environmental and societal changes, professor Jakobsen points out.

We ask the new director; what exactly is the Law of the Sea?

Jakobsen explains that at the very core of the law of the sea is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The Convention is often referred to as the "Constitution of the Sea". - It is UNCLOS that determines the rights and obligations of states when it comes to the use of the sea and access to the resources in it. Due to the Law of the Sea, Norway has gained access to a large sea areas and valuable marine resources, namely the EEZ and the continental shelf in the EEZ and on the continental shelf.

- Since Norway is a coastal state, the Law of the Sea is essential for our welfare and economic development as a society. Marine resources provide great opportunities for continued economic and social development. We are also facing a green shift, where the oceans play a critical role.  New technologies and new marine-based industries may potentially lead to both lower emissions of climate gasses and fewer negative environmental effects, at the same time as they provide economic growth.

- But this requires a development and a management of marine resources which is sustainable. The Law and the Law of the Sea provides the framework for such a development, but there is a need for legal research to develop it further. The research that we conduct here at the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea is important for the continued use of the oceans, she state.

Jakobsen points out that most of the ocean is beyond national jurisdiction and common to all states. – However, it is especially the rich and powerful countries that have access to these community resources. The Law of the Sea should also play an important role in ensuring peace, fair access to resources and community values such as the environment and climate.

In this regard she highlights the Centre’s collaborative project with the University of Ghana on marine resource management which is funded by NORAD. Through this project the Norwegian Centre for the Law of the Sea will assist in the development of study programs in Ghana and collaborate on research by facilitating the exchange of researchers and students between the two countries.

- We will also contribute to the development and teaching of courses on the Law of the Sea for Ghanaian bureaucrats. This will provide expertise in Ghana, which can be crucial when drafting national regulations and when their representatives are to take part in international negotiations, Jakobsen explains.

In the present, the Law of the Sea is largely based on divisions between different maritime zones where each sector, such as fishing and shipping, is regulated separately. Through the law of the sea the coastal states are provided sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the natural resources in their surrounding maritime areas. For example, coastal states are entitled to an exclusive economic zone that extend 200 nautical miles from its baselines.

Jakobsen points out that the different zones in the oceans are ecologically interconnected regardless of the different zones that the oceans are divided into based on the Law of the Sea Convention. Today, the oceans are facing increasing ecological pressure from climate change, loss of biodiversity, overfishing, pollution. – Jurisdiction based on national sovereignty have not proved suitable for solving these environmental challenges, and I believe that one will have to re-think these issues and apply a more holistic approach in the future, she states.

- In the face of increasing ecological pressure, the need to prevent conflicts and to ensure fair access to resources, the Law of the Sea must be developed. I think legal research will play a key role in this development. But legal theory must also be developed, this means including perspectives from, for example, geography, history, the natural- and the social sciences. Here at the Norwegian Center for Law of the Sea, we are well underway!

- The Norwegian Centre for Law of the Sea has been trusted with becoming an Aurora Centre by the Faculty of Law and UiT. I am humbled by this and take on the big tasks as the Centre Director with great ambitions and a willingness to do the job, Jakobsen concludes.

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Last updated: 18.02.2022 11:03