9 October 2017

Raising awareness, connecting the world

When writing a scientific research paper two years ago, Milena Malteze, a law student from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, concluded that her country did too little to fully implement international regulations regarding the ocean, even though it is the country with the second longest coastline in Latin America. When Professor Menezes, Associate Professor at the department of international law, founded the group “Centro de Estudos em Direito do Mar” (CEDMAR), USP’s Center for Studies of the Law of the Sea, which recently became the United Nations Academic Impact’s (UNAI) latest ASPIRE chapter, Milena happily joined.

Established in 2015, CEDMAR was founded upon the belief that even though the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement which defines the rights and responsibilities of nations and other actors with respect to the use of the world's oceans and continental shelves, had been incorporated in Brazilian law, a large number of matters were not regulated and too little research was being done on the topic. A group of students thus organized to tackle this lack of research and to further promote the need for preserving the ocean.

CEDMAR currently has 25 active members working towards this goal. Even though the group focuses on research connected to the law of the sea “the idea was to not only have law students in the group, we always wanted to be open to students from all disciplines,” Milena Malteze, CEDMAR’s Secretary-General, says. Even though membership is restricted to students and researchers, the group shares their knowledge with the general public on a regular basis: seminars, congresses and symposiums can be attended by any interested individual free of charge. Every year, the group decides on a certain topic to which they dedicate their research – this year revolves around marine protection. The students work in five sub-groups ranging from marine spaces to international cooperation, keeping the other members up to date on their research through monthly presentations. By the end of each year, every sub-group produces a final paper in which they lay out the research they have conducted on their specific topic. A big goal of CEDMAR’s members is to publish their research papers as a book – a goal well within reach by the end of the year.

In fact, publishing their yearly research is not the only goal CEDMAR has in mind. The group is currently working on another book called “Illustrate the Law of the Sea” through which the students want to make UNCLOS more accessible and more easily understood by Brazilian students. “We noticed that some expressions used in UNCLOS are hard to understand and that having a book with comments, definitions and, if it is possible, illustrations, would be very helpful,” Milena says, adding that “CEDMAR believes that it will help professors, students and the civil society to better understand the Convention and its rules.”

As Secretary-General, Milena led CEDMAR to apply for membership in ASPIRE after taking part in this year’s Many Languages, One World (MLOW) student conference at the United Nations. Asked about why they decided to apply, Milena says that “during MLOW I was constantly encouraged to implement UNAI principles when coming back to my home country. I think after this experience, I am trying to build a more inclusive group, implementing and spreading the UNAI principles in my country. Most importantly, I am trying to create a more global group, building a network of global citizens defending the protection of our ocean.”
By joining ASPIRE, her group already took a first step towards building a more global network – a fact that sparked enthusiasm among all of CEDMAR’s members. “We think that more students will be interested in our events and meetings and we will thus reach more people,” Milena highlights. Taking part in MLOW also helped her to spread the word about her group globally: another winner of this year’s MLOW contest from Italy decided to join CEDMAR and wants to establish a chapter at her university soon.

If you want to learn more about CEDMAR or become an active member, visit their website or like their page on Facebook.



ASPIRE, which stands for Action by Students to Promote Innovation and Reform through Education, is a student-driven initiative uniting to promote United Nations Academic Impact’s vision of institutions of higher education and research. ASPIRE embodies UNAI’s ten principles within student communities around the world and shares its vision of “Sharing a Culture of Intellectual Social Responsibility.”