Joanna Dingwall

PhD Topic

Law of the sea and deep seabed mining beyond national jurisdiction, including the regulation of commercial mining activities by non-State actors.


Professor Christian Tams
Professor Robin Geiss
Dr Irini Papanicolopulu


Joanna Dingwall is a public international lawyer, qualified to practice law in New York, Scotland, England and Wales.

Currently, Joanna is completing a doctorate focussed on issues of law of the sea and deep seabed mining at the University of Glasgow, while teaching Foundations of International Law to postgraduate (LL.M.) students. She is also a lawyer to the Scottish Government, advising Marine Scotland on issues of international law, law of the sea, European law and domestic law concerning all aspects of Scotland’s offshore renewable energy industry and in relation to the legal protection of the marine environment.

Throughout her legal practice to date, Joanna has advised and represented States, international organisations and private entities on an extensive range of contentious and non-contentious public international law matters, including protection of international investments under investment treaties; structuring of international investments to minimise political risk; treaty drafting and interpretation; State sovereignty over natural resources; land and maritime boundary delimitations; UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and deep seabed mining regime; drafting and negotiating natural resource concession agreements; sovereign immunity; Statehood and international legal personality; State succession; State responsibility; retroactivity issues; international environmental law; denial of justice and expropriation claims; self-determination; human rights; international humanitarian law; use of force; legal aspects of the arms trade; law and procedure of international organisations; recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments and arbitral awards; international arbitration and litigation.

Previously, Joanna was a senior associate at Volterra Fietta, the world’s first dedicated public international law firm, which was established in London in March 2011 and which has been consistently ranked in the top tier for public international law by the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners.  Before joining VF, Joanna was an associate in the London office of global law firm Latham & Watkins from 2008 to 2011, where she was a member of the Public International Law and International Dispute Resolution Practice Groups. 

In addition to her legal practice, between 2008 and 2013, Joanna acted as a Teaching Fellow in public international law at the postgraduate Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London.

Prior to this, Joanna was a solicitor for the Scottish Government, where she worked in the litigation department, assisting in the representation of the Scottish Ministers' interests in civil litigation in UK courts and tribunals.  Casework ranged from judicial reviews of conditions of prisons to high profile and ground-breaking House of Lords cases defining the devolution settlement and its interaction with the European Convention on Human Rights, and addressing complex issues of European law.

During 2003 and 2005, Joanna worked in the Offices of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Court, both situated in The Hague.  She has previously worked with the Scottish Human Rights Centre and REDRESS on a voluntary basis, and also served as Secretary of the Darfur Training Committee throughout 2007.

Joanna holds an LL.B. (first class honours) from the University of Glasgow School of Law and an LL.M. (International Legal Studies) from New York University Law School, where she was a Saint Andrew's Society scholar and recipient of the Rankin-Stone Award.

With funding from the College of Social Sciences, Joanna is currently researching issues concerning law of the sea and deep seabed mining beyond national jurisdiction, including the regulation of commercial mining activities by non-State actors.

Exploration for and exploitation of resources in the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction (the Area) is regulated not by individual States but on behalf of the international community as a whole by the International Seabed Authority (ISA). The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the broad legal framework within which the ISA operates. The UNCLOS deep seabed mining regime is underpinned by the principle that the Area’s mineral resources constitute the common heritage of mankind. No State or commercial entity can unilaterally claim sovereignty over them. All exploration and exploitation activities in the Area must be conducted with the permission and oversight of the ISA. Much of the existing legal framework applicable to mining in the deep seabed has yet to be applied in practice and many legal rules have still to be developed (particularly as regards exploitation of resources and eventual distribution of the economic benefits derived from those resources).

Despite the lack of a completed legal framework, deep sea mining technology is racing ahead. After decades of anticipation, mining for mineral resources in the deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction is set to begin in the coming years. In this context, Joanna’s research evaluates whether imminent commercial mining activities in the Area by non-State actors can be undertaken in a way which is compatible with the concept of the common heritage of mankind.

Joanna’s broader research interests include public international law, international dispute resolution, law of the sea and international legal theory.

Joanna's LinkedIn Profile


‘Unlawful Confinement as a War Crime: The Jurisprudence of the Yugoslav Tribunal and the Common Core of International Humanitarian Law Applicable to Contemporary Armed Conflicts’ (2004) 9 Oxford Journal of Conflict and Security Law 133

‘Facilitation of Cross-Border Mediation in Europe’ (September 2008) Latham & Watkins International Dispute Resolution Bulletin 2

‘International Arbitration in Scotland: A Bold New Future’ (2010) 13 International Arbitration Law Review 138

‘ICSID Tribunal Finds Jordan in Violation of its Investment Treaty Obligations’ (2010) 13 International Arbitration Law Review N-34 (co-author)

‘Resource Governance of Deep Seabed Minerals beyond National Jurisdiction: The Evolving Regime’ (forthcoming journal publication)

‘Thinking about Engaging in Deep Seabed Mining beyond National Jurisdiction?’ (forthcoming industry publication)

‘Commercial Mining Activities in the Deep Seabed Area by Private Actors – The International Legal Framework’ (contribution to forthcoming edited book on legal challenges concerning use of the seabed)


Recent Conference Papers & Invited Seminars

‘Investment Protection in Deep Sea Mining’ (March 2017) Oceans and Space: New Frontiers in Investment Protection, Frankfurt Investment Law Workshop, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

‘International Law as a Profession’ (October 2016), University of Glasgow, School of Law
‘Exploitation of Seabed Mineral Resources beyond National Jurisdiction’ (June 2016) Conference: New Uses and Abuses of the Seabed – Legal Challenges, University of Oslo, School of Law, Norway

‘The International Seabed Authority and Mining Activities by Private Parties: Managing Legal (Un)certainty for Economic Operators’ (June 2016) Workshop: New Uses of the Seabed, Scandinavian Institute of Maritime Law, University of Oslo, Norway

‘Law of the Sea: Dispute Resolution Mechanisms’ (March 2015) Guest Lecture, University of Glasgow, School of Law

‘What Lies Beneath? Plumbing the Depths of the International Deep Seabed Mining Regime’ (February 2015) International Economic Activity Panel, Law Colloquium, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Ireland

Various presentations, seminars and training sessions on investment treaty protection, sovereign immunity, maritime delimitation, law of the sea and other public international law issues (2008-2013)


Visiting lecturer, Foundations of International Law, LL.M. course, University of Glasgow (2015 - current). 

Past teaching experience

In addition to her law practice, from 2008 to 2013 Joanna acted as a Teaching Fellow in public international law at the postgraduate Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy, SOAS, University of London.

Joanna has also tutored on various public international law issues at the University of Glasgow.


University of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences Scholarship


John McConnachie Memorial Prize (2001) (joint winner)

University of Glasgow Stair Prize in Public International Law (2002) (first in graduating class)

Mark Scott Foundation Award (2003)

Cross Trust Award (2003)

Saint Andrew’s Society of State of New York scholarship (2003-04)

Rankin-Stone scholarship (2003-04)

Award from Sean Connery’s Scottish International Education Trust (2003-04)

University of Glasgow, College of Social Sciences Scholarship (2014-2017)