Research Fellow Elena Ivanova awarded with Doctoral degree from the University of Luxembourg

3 June 2020

It is a great pleasure to congratulate Dr Elena Ivanova, currently a Research Fellow at the International Max Planck Research School for Successful Dispute Resolution (IMPRS-SDR), for having been awarded the Doctoral degree by the University of Luxembourg.


On 20 May 2020, Elena Ivanova successfully defended her thesis titled “The Competing Jurisdictions of the WTO and the UNCLOS Dispute Settlement Fora in the Context of Multifaceted Disputes”. The Jury consisted of her thesis supervisor Prof. Rüdiger Wolfrum (Max Planck Foundation for the Rule of Law / University of Heidelberg), Prof. Matthew Happold (University of Luxembourg), Prof. Joana Mendes (University Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas), Prof. Hélène Ruiz Fabri (Max Planck Institute Luxembourg of International Procedural Law / University of Luxembourg), and Dr Jacques Hartmann (University of Dundee).

In her thesis, Elena addresses the challenges that multifaceted disputes straddling different treaty regimes pose to international courts and tribunals of limited jurisdiction. In particular, she examines the interplay between the WTO Agreement and the UNCLOS, including the interaction between the dispute settlement rules embodied in them. These treaties belong to different branches of international law and contain separate dispute settlement mechanisms both of which establish distinct adjudicatory bodies of compulsory but limited subject-matter jurisdiction, while leaving open various questions of procedural and substantive law nature. As a result, it is unclear to what extent these adjudicatory bodies can refer to other rules of international law and especially other treaty rules; what the implications of their pronouncements are in relation to each other; how should they approach multifaceted disputes involving both WTO law and law of the sea issues, given their limited subject-matter jurisdiction. These problems are not specific to the WTO – UNCLOS dispute settlement mechanisms but have a wider reach as they have arisen before other international courts and tribunals vested with limited jurisdiction. Their examination, therefore, has resonance beyond the context of WTO and UNCLOS dispute settlement and helps identifying similar procedural and substantive law problems across jurisdictions, determine the common approaches and highlight and critically assess the inconsistent ones. The ultimate aim of the PhD thesis has been to propose a solution in case a multifaceted dispute allegedly involving different treaties is submitted for resolution before different dispute settlement fora.

Due to the exceptional circumstance, some members of the jury as the public participated virtually via WEBEX.