International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs

International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs

Universität Hamburg


The International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs at the University of Hamburg was established in April 2002 by the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, in co-operation with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law (Hamburg), the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law (Heidelberg), the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (Hamburg) and the University of Hamburg. The Research School also had a cooperation with the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS).

The Research School had a unique interdisciplinary Ph.D. program. The School's researchers covered the legal, economic, ecological and geophysical aspects of the use, protection and organization of the oceans. The Scholars were recruited from all over the world to write their dissertation under the supervision under one of the Research School’s directors, all of them professors or senior scientists from the cooperating institutions. The Scholars received a grant from the Research School to enable them to pursue their research. Further, Associates were admitted under the provision that they write their dissertation under the supervision of one of the Directors of the School and work in fields related to the School’s work. Associates did not receive a scholarship from the Research School but were invited to participate in all academic and social activities of the Research School.

Research Focus

The Research School’s work aimed to address the intensified use of the sea through an acceleration in the growth of the world population and the liberalization of international trade, especially within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This increased use is fostered by regional developments such as the enlargement of the European Union (EU) towards the East, which emphasizes the role of the European seas. Furthermore, technical progress allows an even more intensive use of the oceans, e.g. in the fields of sea traffic, sea mining, fishery and tourism or with regard to the installation of undersea cables and pipelines.

The dissertations pursued by the members of the Research School dealt with the consequences of this intensified use of the seas and its interactions with nature. The sea is a global and transnational good. Intensified use of the sea and its protection must be in relation and only its protection in the long term ensures the participation of future generations. The Research School's researchers worked in the fields of economics, natural sciences and law. Their projects met in the following clusters: maritime trade and transport, coastal zone management, management of marine environment, ocean and climate, implications of climatic changes in the Arctic, and maritime safety and security.