One of the priorities of the “Turkish National Marine Research Strategy (TUDAS) Document” (Official Gazette dated 2 Nov. 2014 and numbered 29137) action plan, agreed through the Decree of the Council of Ministers numbered 2014/6798, has been set as increasing the capacity and employment of research manpower in marine sciences and, within this framework, the implementation of research manpower training programs in the field of “the sea and maritime law”. The shortage of personnel engaged in academic studies in this field in Turkey and lack of coordination among the existing ones make it difficult for Turkey to develop policies and defend its existing policies therein.
In this context, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey has sent an official letter to the Rectorate of the University of Ankara stating that becoming one of the leading countries in the field of international sea and maritime law is among the foreign policy objectives of our country, however in this field academic studies are not at the desired level and there is a significant vacancy. In the aforesaid letter, it is emphasized that the establishment of an active application and research center in order to train academics in the field of the sea and maritime law within Ankara University, which has a well-established history, will contribute to the achievement of our country’s goals in this field and enhance its position in international law.
In parallel with Turkey’s expansion to the seas and the rising problems relating to international sea and maritime law, the need for studies in the field of the sea and maritime law and policies is increasing day by day. Due to the fact that there are a limited number of the academics who fulfill this need, it is crucial that academics throughout Turkey be assembled under a single roof and carry out academic work in cooperation with each other.
For these reasons, the Research Center of the Sea and Maritime Law (DEHUKAM) was established at Ankara University in order to bring together all the academics and other interests engaged in the sea and maritime law and policies in Turkey. The regulation regarding the operation of the center was published in the Official Gazette No. 29229 dated 7 Jan. 2015.
The purpose of the center is to carry out scientific research in the field of the sea and maritime law and policies, to train expert personnel in this field, to contribute to the development of Turkish sea and maritime law and policies through cooperation with the related public institutions, organizations, and real and legal persons.
The scientific activities to be organized within DEHUKAM, the specialist library to be established and joint studies with institutions abroad will raise awareness and encourage scientific studies regarding the sea and maritime law and policies. Moreover, the opportunities that DEHUKAM is to offer to the relevant persons will direct academics to work in the field of the sea and maritime law and policies and will contribute to its studies.
The fact that Turkey is surrounded by seas on three sides, makes the sea and maritime law and policies important for Turkey. One of the most important sea and maritime law problems that Turkey has been experiencing for many years is the problem of maritime sovereignty and jurisdiction in the Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Sea. In addition to these, the constant need for the sea and maritime law and policies is also strengthened by the facts that the Turkish Straits are important international transit routes, ninety percent of the internationally traded goods are transported by sea, and there is an increasing need for sea and especially ocean resources due to the depletion of terrestrial resources in order to meet the infinite demand. DEHUKAM aims to play an active role in the formation of political decisions to be made to achieve the desired rules of the sea and maritime law for Turkey.
Another benefit of DEHUKAM will be to train experts at a level that will give guidance to Turkish foreign policy and to ensure that these people actively participate on behalf of Turkey at international meetings. In particular, maritime disputes in which Turkey has an active role are addressed at scientific meetings held with the participation of international experts. The defense of foreign policy in accordance with Turkish maritime policies at these meetings also necessitates technical knowledge in both the sea and maritime law and policies. In addition, there is a need for experts in both the sea and maritime law and policies in order to build opinion for our country in the drafting phase of the international treaties in the maritime field or to consider whether accession to the signed treaties is in line with the interests of Turkey. Therefore, experts who will be trained through DEHUKAM are considered to be beneficial for the development of Turkish sea and maritime law and policies as well as Turkish foreign policy.
DEHUKAM plans to guide the relevant persons in the field through cooperation with the international academic institutions that operate in the sea and maritime law, especially Germany Max Planck Institute, The Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea, the Law of the Sea Institute of Iceland, Korea Maritime Institute, the Center for International Law at National University of Singapore and the Center for Oceans Law and Policy at University of Virginia.
In this context, negotiations were held regarding the cooperation between DEHUKAM and the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, which has a 20-year history; and as a result of these negotiations, a protocol of cooperation was signed between the Rhodes Academy and Ankara University. Within the scope of this cooperation, the Rhodes Academy accepts students from Turkey for a three-week academic semester, which is held every July, and in addition, DEHUKAM assigns academics that are needed for training at Rhodes Academy. Similar cooperation protocols are also signed with public institutions and organizations operating in the maritime sector in Turkey.
DEHUKAM has started to build a library of sea and maritime law and policies. In this context, the literature is scanned, publications are identified, and the processes are carried out to archive the publications in the library.
Finally, it is considered that national or international scientific events to be held in the sea and maritime law and policies, and training programs to be formed with the participation of expert trainers will benefit the graduates of law, political science, international relations and other related departments.
DEHUKAM has the notion that it can bring together all relevant parties interested in the sea and maritime law and policies under a national collaborative research infrastructure, although it is an application and research center established just at Ankara University.