“There are so many reasons why I’d like to thank Lloyd’s – but above all for supporting a female lawyer from Africa and for believing in my abilities.” – Justina Shikulo, Lloyd’s Register Foundation Fellow from Namibia, 2019-2020.
For nearly 30 years, Lloyd’s Register has been a strategic funding partner of the IMO International Maritime Legal Institute (IMLI), the global centre of excellence in maritime law set up by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). Every year we support three postgraduate students with fully-funded fellowships to pursue studies at IMLI in Malta.
IMLI has been adapting to the COVID 19 pandemic with a range of online support for its international students. Zoom tutorials, online revision courses and examinations, have helped IMLI keep its specialist training in drafting of maritime legislation on track.
It has also been supporting the wellbeing of students – including this year’s three Lloyd’s Register Foundation fellows, who have all stayed in Malta during the crisis. The students have moral tutors, who provide a framework of support. This includes a daily Whatsapp message to find out how they are, from IMLI’s Director, Professor David Attard.
IMLI’s students are all postgraduates, and many are senior government officials in their home countries. The courses are highly specialised. Senior Lecturer Elda Belja explained:
“Our students are given the skills necessary to effectively incorporate and implement IMO legal instruments, many of which are designed to protect property and lives at sea, as well as the marine environment.”
IMLI graduates supported by Lloyd’s Register Foundation have been making a difference in their home countries: “One IMLI graduate sponsored by the Foundation has brought about fundamental change in maritime safety in her home country, the Philippines, where adopting IMO legal instruments has meant fewer small vessels are now being lost at sea.”
IMLI has succeeded in developing maritime legal capacity in countries where there was little to none, leaving governments depending on the costly services of foreign experts who came and went. Now 148 states and territories have an IMLI-trained expert (from over 1,060 students trained).
“Building up in-country capacity allows developing countries to rely on their own expertise to create legislation and infrastructure that enhances the development of the maritime sector,” said Elda. “Everyone at IMLI believes in the importance of this mission and that’s why we have been committed to keeping our services running during the pandemic.”
Another impact of the Foundation grants has been to ensure that more women lawyers benefit from IMLI training. Since it began operating in 1988, IMLI’s Statute included a clause mandating that 50% of candidates should be female. While in the early years men outnumbered women applicants, IMLI’s commitment to gender balance has seen things turn around – and this year women comprise the majority of the student body. This has been strongly supported by the Lloyd’s fellowships – this year we supported two female students and one male.
“The countries supported by the fellowship include Senegal, which has a huge gap in maritime administration and a need for trained specialists – one of this year’s Lloyd’s Fellows is the first Senegalese IMLI student since 2005,” said Elda.
By continuing to support IMLI, we’re helping to develop a formidable network of maritime legal specialists across the world, sharing the same principles and working towards the same goals. As Professor Attard puts it: “IMLI contributes to encouraging and facilitating the global adoption and implementation of legal instruments designed to promote safe, secure and efficient shipping on clean oceans.”
Elda explains: “Uniform implementation of international maritime law is what we’re aiming at – whatever the legal system (common law, civil law etc.). Our students contribute to the development of the maritime sector by taking an integrated approach to maritime affairs. That’s why we’ve tried so hard to keep going.”
As well as contributing to better maritime law in developing countries, the grants are changing lives. Mariam Mgeladze from Georgia won the Lloyd’s Register Foundation Prize for the Best Performing Lloyd’s Register Foundation Scholar in 2017.
“Because of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, I had the chance to study at IMLI. This experience gave me a great opportunity to enhance my professionalism and accelerate awareness in maritime law from an international perspective. It has brought a noticeable positive change in my professional career and life.”