International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

The South African Judge Albert Hoffmann has been elected president of the 168-member International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea for the next three years.

albert hoffmann judge tribunal international sea law
Judge Hoffmann.

The ITLOS was established by the United Nations in 1982, with an international framework for law over “all ocean space, its uses and resources.” Based in Hamburg, Germany, there are currently 168 signatories, 167 states plus the European Union. Holdouts since 2012 have been the United States and Iran, according to Wikipedia.

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

According to its website, 29 cases have so far been submitted to the tribunal. One of those being deliberated at present concerns a dispute over the maritime boundaries between Mauritius and the Maldives.

Hoffmann has been a member of the tribunal since 1 October 2005, was vice-president in 2011-2014, and president of Seabed Disputes Chamber since October 2017. The International Seabed Authority was also established by the convention, its responsibility being the regulation of seabed mining beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.


Hoffmann was an advocate in South Africa, and worked in various legal capacities with the South African foreign service, including at the SA mission to the United Nations. He was also a senior lecturer in Advanced and Applied International Law, LLM Programme, at the University of Pretoria, and a lecturer at the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy. The new vice-president is Judge Tomas Heidar of Iceland. They will serve in their posts until 2023.