Inspiring Stories
12- Maria Teresa Infante Caffi

María Teresa Infante Caffi

Class of 1980
Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (since 2020)
Ambassador of Chile to the Netherlands (2014-2020)

Chilean professor, diplomat and lawyer, María Teresa Infante Caffi is highly respected for  her interdisciplinarity. She has a prestigious academic background, having applied her many specialties to international studies, and this has placed her in an unparalleled position of expertise on areas including the Southeast Pacific cooperation system, the law of the sea, Antarctic negotiations, integration with neighboring countries and in Latin America, and dispute settlement. 

In 1980,  Caffi joined both the Faculty of Law and the Institute of International Studies at the University of Chile. In 1985, she became a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of Chile. In 1987, she became director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of Chile, as well as the co-Director of the LL.M. programme dedicated to “Investments, Trade and Arbitration” and jointly offered by the University of Heidelberg and the University of Chile. 

Professor Caffi taught in many prestigious programmes, including:

  • the Inter-American Juridical Committee,
  • the External Sessions in Chile of the International Law Academy of The Hague, 
  • the National University of Cordoba in Argentina, 
  • the Bancaja Euro Mediterranean Courses of International Law and the Bancaja International Center for Peace and Development and Universitat Jaume I in Spain, 
  • the University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, 
  • the ITLOS-Nippon Program International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Germany. 

Caffi was awarded  the Amanda Labarca medal in 1989 by the University of Chile, in presence of faculty and family members.

After many decades in academia , Caffi joined the Chilean diplomatic corps. She served as the National Director of Frontiers and Limits of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Chile. International disputes playing an important part in her career, she was co-Agent of Chile in disputes before the International Court of Justice for Maritime Disputes from 2008 to 2014; regarding the obligation to negotiate between 2013 and 2018, and concerning status and use of the waters of the Silala between 2016 and 2020.

In 2014, Caffi was named ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlandsand served until 2020. Simultaneously, she represented Chile before the international organisations in The Hague. There were unique moments at the International Criminal Court, the OPCW, and several others dealing with a broad range of themes: from legal cooperation to human development, from justice to norm creation. Caffi was permanent representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and she has presided over the delegation of Chile at the Assembly of States Parties of the International Criminal Court, the Council of the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the OPCW.

Throughout her career, Caffi has advised and participated in research programs for many institutions, including the Permanent Commission of the South Pacific, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the National Commission of the Environment. She has participated in diplomatic negotiations on maritime and Antarctic matters, and further negotiated with neighboring South American countries on issues of integration, limits, international law and cooperation on border policies.

From 1980 to 1982, Caffi participated at the Third Law of the Sea Conference under the direction of two diplomats, Fernando Zegers and Francisco Orrego Vicuña. Forty years later in 2020, she was elected as a judge and joined the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The Tribunal belongs to a law of the sea system and matters can be brought to its attention according to provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which makes up its decisions and opinions highly specialised. Caffi is the first Chilean to have the honour and great responsibility of serving on the tribunal. Having already appeared before the International Court of Justice as a co-agent representing Chile, Caffi is an important figure in the realm of international law.

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María Teresa Infante Caffi