Inspiring Stories
11-Maurice Kamga

Maurice Kamga

Class of 2003
Judge, International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (since 2020)
Legal Secretary, International Court of Justice (2008-2020)

Born in 1967, Maurice Kengne Kamga is a senior Cameroonian diplomat and an accomplished academic. After obtaining his Baccalaureate in 1986 at the Lycée de New-Bell in Douala, the young Kamga studied Public Law at the University of Yaoundé, where he obtained a licence (1989), a master’s degree (1990), and a diploma of advanced studies (1991). He then passed the highly competitive entrance exams for the International Relations Institute of Cameroon (IRIC), a regional school specialising in the training of African diplomats. There, he defended his PhD in International Relations (1994), with a specialisation in diplomacy, under the supervision of Professor Maurice Kamto, who was a great inspiration for him since his early days at the University of Yaoundé.  
Kamga joined the Cameroonian diplomatic service in May 1994. In the same year, he was designated as the ninth laureate of the Hamilton Shirley Amerasinghe Fellowship, which the United Nations offers each year to a particularly promising candidate for the purpose of specialisation in the law of the sea. The scholarship included a research period of four months at the Geneva Graduate Institute, followed by an internship of two months at the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations in New York. During his time in Geneva, Kamga expressed his desire to write a second PhD thesis at the prestigious Institute. He obtained a diploma from the Institute in 1997 and a PhD in Public International Law  in 2003, in which he specialised in the Law of the Sea, under the supervision of his mentor, Professor Lucius Caflisch. Following the publication of his second doctoral thesis, entitled Délimitation maritime sur la côte atlantique africaine, Kamga returned to Cameroon where he was appointed as legal advisor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as adjunct professor at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon.  

In 2008, Professor Kamga was appointed as Legal Secretary of the International Court of Justice in The Hague. He was the first Sub-Saharan African to be appointed to such a high legal position at the “World Court”. During the following 13 years, he acquired valuable experience with the judges of the jurisdiction. He combined his duties at the Court with intense academic activity in several African and European universities and has published many books and articles on the topic of international law and international justice. In 2017, he successfully defended a Habilitation à diriger des recherches in Public Law, at the University of Paris Nanterre, under the supervision of Professor Alain Pellet. This was a particularly important achievement for Professor Kamga, as it was the realisation of an old dream when he began his studies at the University of Yaoundé in 1986. 

In August 2020, Professor Kamga was elected by the meeting of the State Parties to the United Convention on the Law of the Sea as one of the judges of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, based in Hamburg, with the rank of the Vice-Secretary General of the United Nations. His Excellency Judge Kamga took office in October 2020, for a renewable term of nine years.  
As judges of the Tribunal do not live permanently in Hamburg, Kamga returned to his country to pursue his further academic dreams. Since 2021, he has acted as the Promoter and the Executive President of HITAS (Hanseatic Institute of Technology and Applied Sciences), a private institution of higher education based in Douala, Cameroon. Visiting Professor at various universities, he has also been the director and co-director of numerous doctoral dissertations and has participated in  doctoral thesis examination panels at several African and European universities, since 2011. 

Professor Kamga highly values his decision to restart his doctoral studies at the Geneva Graduate Institute in 1995, as it helped him to become one of the youngest judges of two international judicial bodies with universal jurisdiction: the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea and the International Court of Justice.