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Professor David Attard to receive International Maritime Prize

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Professor David Joseph Attard

IMLI Professor David Joseph Attard (Malta) is to receive the International Maritime Prize for his contributions to the objectives and work of IMO.

Outgoing Director of the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI)  Professor David Joseph Attard has been selected by the IMO Council (at its 127th session) to be the recipient of the International Maritime Prize for 2021. Professor Attard was nominated for the prestigious award by the Republic of Malta.

In the nomination, the impact that Professor Attard has had on the maritime world, particularly via his three decade-long role at IMLI was highlighted. The Maltese national was responsible for proposing, in 1987, together with the late Dr. Joseph Fenech, former Maltese Parliamentary Secretary and Minister, the establishment of IMLI to then IMO Secretary-General C.P. Srivastava. During his tenure with the institute, Professor Attard has overseen the training of more than 1,000 maritime professionals from more than 150 States – many of whom have gone on to represent their countries as delegates to the various IMO bodies. This has contributed to capacity building in many regions and supported IMO’s goals of promoting safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation.

Professor Attard is also President of the Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes and is a judge for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Career path to IMO

Born in Sliema, Malta, Professor Attard obtained a Diploma Notary Public and a Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) from the University of Malta. He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (D.Phil.) from the University of Oxford. He is an Advocate in Malta and a Barrister-at-Law, Middle Temple, London.

The law expert has been an active contributor to the work of IMO since the late 1980s when he represented Malta as a member of and consultant to the Maltese Delegation to the IMO Assembly, and a member of the Maltese delegation to the IMO Diplomatic Conference which adopted the 1990 International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation.

Efforts at IMLI

Professor Attard served as Special Adviser to IMO Secretary-General C.P. Srivastava*, who was overseeing the development of a substantial international maritime legal framework to ensure safer shipping on cleaner oceans. In response to reported difficulties by many States in incorporating IMO instruments into national legislation due to a lack of local expertise in the field of international maritime law, Professor Attard proposed the establishment of the IMLI in Malta. The Institute was set up in 1988.

Initially serving as an advisor to the founding Director and an active teacher who crafted the Institute’s first syllabus, Attard became a Member of the IMLI Governing Board in 1989. He was appointed Director of the Institute in 1992.

The work of the Institute, with Professor Attard at the helm, has been recognized by various international bodies including the IMO Assembly, IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee and the United Nations General Assembly.

Additional work

Professor Attard was the first Chair of the Legal Committee of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and has been praised for spearheading the 1988 Maltese UN Initiative – which led to the recognition of climate change as a common concern of humankind. This work culminated in the adoption of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, by the Rio Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development, and of the subsequent Kyoto Protocol.

Professor Attard currently serves as President of the Chamber for Marine Environment Disputes (since October 2020) and is a judge for the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea since 2011, having been Vice-President of the Tribunal (2017-2020). He has helped to establish a close cooperation between IMLI and the World Maritime University, another global training institution established by IMO.

International Maritime Prize

The International Maritime Prize is awarded annually by IMO to the individual or organization, judged to have made a significant contribution to the work and objectives of the Organization. It consists of a sculpture in the form of a dolphin and includes a financial award, upon submission of an academic paper written on a subject relevant to IMO. (Read more here)

The Prize will be presented to Professor Attard at an awards ceremony to be scheduled by the IMO Secretary-General.

  • C.P. Srivastava was IMO Secretary-General from 1974 to 1989

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