Broadened Horizons: Australia Awards Law of the Sea Short Course Moves Online

Sharing the Philippines' strong interest in maritime law, the Australian Government, through its Australia Awards and Alumni Engagement Program, has supported the delivery of a one-week Law of the Sea course for the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other Philippine Government Departments and agencies. The course was delivered by the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) at the University of Wollongong.

ANCORS has delivered the course on three occasions since 2018. The fourth offering, initially scheduled in March 2020, was postponed due to COVID-19 related restrictions, and was redesigned to make it suitable for online delivery, with input from DFA, the Australian Embassy, and ANCORS.

While the core content remained the same, the course was delivered through a mix of live and streamed pre-recorded content, in half-day sessions delivered over two weeks. This gave participants the flexibility to balance their work and online learning. This also allowed personnel from several Philippine missions around the world to participate in the course.

During the launch of the fourth offering, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr underscored the importance of the subject matter to the Philippines. Also present was Undersecretary Eduardo J. Malaya, who had been a driving force in the original adoption of the course and its redesign into an online mode of delivery.

The course covered maritime zones and jurisdiction, the law of the sea practice of the Philippines and its neighbours, the regulation of activities at sea and the international dispute resolution under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea..

The course was well-received by the participants who embraced the use of technology for group discussions and presentations. The course was delivered to over 100 home offices around the Philippines and as far as Europe and the Americas. While a more traditional mode of delivery is hoped for in 2021, the 2020 Law of the Sea course demonstrated the viability of an online model.