After having participated in a competition between the three law faculties in Norway, the Faculty of Law at the University of Tromsø was proclaimed as the winner, and during the next six years the university will receive a total of 36 million NOK from the Kristian Gerhard Jebsen foundation.
With additional funding from the University of Tromsø and the Norwegian Research Council, a total amount of 130 million NOK is planned to be used to establish the world's largest Ocean Law Centre in Tromsø.
"In our view, our ocean law centre will be the largest of its kind in the world today. China may have something of equal size, but unfortunately, if so, we do not know much about it," says professor Tore Henriksen. As Principal Investigator, he will be in charge of establishing the centre during the next years. Through different subprojects, organized as work packages, the aim are to build knowledge, do research, and enhance international cooperation within the field of ocean law. Rector Jarle Aarbakke compared the process leading to the establishment of the centre with the Champions League, indicating the competition the University and the Faculty of Law met when submitting their application. According to the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, the leader of the foundation, Kåre Rommetveit, stated that the applications were evaluated by three independent international experts and that Tromsø clearly stood out in comparison to the other applicants.
The changes in the Arctic, such as the loss of ice, mean that there are several judicial problems to be addressed. Fishing, shipping, oil and ocean floor activities all include possible future problems not yet investigated. "Many socially important questions remain unanswered. As for the environmental, political and economic issue, there is still insufficient legal clarification," Henriksen concludes.
The centre will be situated as part of the Faculty of Law at the University of Tromsø. During the project period, the university expects to build unique expertise as well as award several new PhD degrees within the field of ocean law.