Kuwait’s Sharefah A. Almuhana has won the prestigious AIJA Best International Future Lawyer Award 2016. A former Legal Researcher at the Ministry of Public Works of Kuwait, Almuhana holds LLB and LLM from Kuwait University School of Law. Having graduated with a Doctoral Degree in Law from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Cleveland, USA, in May this year, she is currently a Legal Intern at US Immigration Law firm in Laramie, Wyoming, covering humanitarian cases including refugees and asylum. Her winning essay “Governing Shared Natural Resources of the International Seabed Area” was adapted from her doctoral thesis on the subject. A Jury of three AIJA Executive Committee Members assessed entries based on the quality of research and analysis, novelty, profundity and overall contribution to legal knowledge. They were unanimous in choosing Almuhana’s paper for this year’s award. Her research examines the legal framework and strategy for distributing the potential outcomes from exploiting the natural resources in the common International Seabed Area (the Area). Located beyond the limits of national jurisdictions and rich in valuable mineral deposits such as nickel, copper, cobalt, iron, and manganese, the deposits are estimated to satisfy global demand for centuries. “I noticed that the legal regime of the Area needs some improvements,” she explained, when asked why she chose the topic. “However, I was not sure where the defects were in the system. I decided to uncover the weakness of the Area system not only as a legal system but also as a system that involves many social and economic issues.” “Through my research, I wanted the legal community and policy makers to be aware that even institutions with sound legal frameworks are vulnerable to failure when these legal frameworks are structured in a way that undermines the economic or the social interests of some members of a community,” informed Almuhana. “The Law of the Sea introduces many unanswered questions, providing new prospects for research into these areas of the oceans that cover most of our planet.” The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has recently announced its intention to extend ‘World Heritage’ recognition and protection to areas of the sea. “Winning the AIJA competition means a lot for me,” said Almuhana. “It means that my research is recognized internationally. It is also a reminder for me to keep writing and researching. Furthermore, it is a message to the youth and women from the developing countries to keep doing what they think they can do regardless of the barriers they might face.” Her prize includes an all-expenses-paid trip to the AIJA International Young Lawyers Congress, a temporary waiver of the AIJA membership fee, and publication and distribution of her paper. In-keeping with the “AIJA spirit”, the award is intended to help young lawyers build confidence in their academic skills and produce scientific work on international legal issues.