Academy Students in the Spotlight: Public and Private Law Session


This Summer, almost 700 students from all over the world visited the Peace Palace Library during the Summer Courses of The Hague Academy.  They particpated in either the Public International Law or the Private International Law and some particpated in both. We asked four students from Paraguay, Iran, Brazil and India to reflect and share with us their inspiring experiences and here is what they had to say.

Augustina Șiman, Lecturer  European Law and  PhD Candidate in Public International Law, Moldova State University, Diplomat, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova

Little did I know on the 25th of June, as I woke up in the morning and took the tram to get to the Peace Palace, that the place was so extraordinary that it would make me rush with enthusiasm to its gates for the next 6 weeks.

I would define the experience of being a United Nations Fellow and thus attending the “Programme de bourses de perfectionnement en droit international” as an astonishing luck for anyone who is deeply in love with international law, is pursuing the continuous broadening of knowledge of IL and has a personal sincere conviction that it is one’s duty to give the best legal advice on various international law issues to the State’s representatives or to pass on all the knowledge to the students (next generation of national leaders) and therefore make a change in this world.

The fellowship invites you to enrich your understanding about international law through combined courses at the Hague Academy of International Law and special - tailored ones for the UN fellows, therefore offering access to classes held by most notorious teachers and practitioners of international law. The captivating schedule also includes study visits to various international courts, as well as the possibility to attend public hearings at the ICJ. Afterwards you have all the time you need to visit the Peace Palace’s famous Library, which can be perfectly described by the quote: “A library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas, a place where history comes to life” (Norman Cousins). Which is very true, as I worked a lot there on my PhD Thesis.

Using the same technique I would advocate that the extraordinary library staff is suited a Neil Gaiman’s quote: “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one”.

Thus, one has the remarkable possibility to be in the middle of the most recent theoretical and practical developments of international law.

To make the whole story short: You are never going to be the same person after entering the gates of the Peace Palace.

René Figueredo Corrales, Diplomat and International Lawyer, Paraguay

“In a conflict between States, the weak can be just, so can be the strong. But the injustice of one of them is limited by its own weakness, while that of the other one can pretend to reach as far as its strength can get. Therefore, not being able to make the just always strong, we have insisted that the strong be always just” (Manuel Gondra, Paraguayan scholar and statesman)

Hello there! This is René, I am a lawyer and diplomat from Paraguay, and I attended the 2018 Summer Course, Public International Law session, of The Hague Academy of International Law. My experience in The Hague was life-changing. I got to meet wonderful people and make friends from literally all over the world from different academic and professional backgrounds, and attend lectures delivered by prestigious scholars from the avant-garde of international law. This led me to a broader understanding on the subject.

Het Vredespaleis, a sanctuary of peace and justice, gathers both students and teachers during The Hague’s kind summer to grasp core concepts of international law. The Summer Course is an immersion in current topics that are relevant to the international legal community, which are chosen by the Academy every year. Upon selection, I also had the amazing opportunity of attending the Directed Studies, an advanced segment of the Course, which this year’s topic was “The Professionalization of International Law”.

But it is not only about the Course itself! This year, and for the first time, the Academy organized meetings with judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in addition to visits to embassies and international organizations based in The Hague, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). These activities gave the attendees the chance of having a practical viewpoint on the work of governments and international bodies in The Hague. In my case, I had the honor to attend a meeting with H. E. Judge Peter Tomka, who discussed about his experience and challenges as a judge of the ICJ.

Moreover, I was able to see beautiful places and sights around the city, such as Scheveningen, Mauritshuis, the Plein, the Binnenhof, Panorama Mesdag, and, of course, the Peace Palace, which is a treasure well hidden: every single corner is a piece of magic and history, from its peaceful gardens and grove to its marmoreal halls. As for the Peace Palace Library, its infinite shelves are delightful for anyone who is passionate about international law, its ambience is perfect for studying and consulting, is very well-equipped and its staff is wonderful (also they keep the sacred texts of the Grotius Collection!).

The Hague Academy of International Law is a necessary step that anyone who wants to specialise in this fascinating field must take; I encourage you to take part of this unforgettable experience! I am still feeling “Delft blue” about the Course being already over, but happy about my new acquaintances and the new perspectives I learned on international law! It is no wonder that these two words are inscribed on the main entrance gates of the Peace Palace: “PAX” and “AMICITIA”.  

Aakriti Mathur 2018 Summer Course Attendee Advocate, Delhi High Court, New Delhi, India

I had the privilege to attend both the Public International Law and Private International Law Sessions of the Summer Course 2018 at The Hague Academy of International Law and it was one of the most enriching and intellectually stimulating experiences of my life.

The best thing about the Summer Course is that, irrespective of your personal career path and trajectory, the Academy has something to offer everyone. For young graduate students, the Academy offers a chance to understand the broad canvas of International Law through its General and Special Courses, taught by the experts of International Law from all over the world; for postgraduate and other advanced students, it offers an opportunity to have a meaningful dialogue regarding contemporary International Law issues and also find a unique glimpse into the day to day practice and career in International Law, not only through the courses and the interactive Seminars but also the numerous visits to International Institutions and Embassies situated in The Hague; and to the practising Advocates and other advanced level Doctoral and Post-Doctoral candidates, the Academy offers interesting networking opportunities for career growth, especially through its Directed Studies sessions. The beautiful Peace Palace where the Academy is situated and the wonderful and the resource rich Peace Palace Library are treasures in themselves and contribute immensely to the study of the course as well as to the pursuit of other research interests of the attendees of the Academy. It is a truly unique experience and I would recommend it to every International Law enthusiast.

Naghmeh Javadpour, Doctoral Scholar

I participated in the Doctoral Scholarship Programme from 2 July to 2 September during the 2018 Session of the Summer Courses. This was a very unique opportunity to use invaluable sources of the Library to enrich my thesis. Continuously using the Library sources searching materials, enabled me to revise some parts of the thesis, alongside with obtaining a more comprehensive approach in the research. I also attended some summer courses related to my thesis, which was indeed a great opportunity to have a deeper look in my research area. I was also honored to attend public hearings of the ICJ on Alleged violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America) which was an exciting experience, looking how in practice law is ruled in international courts.

Yes! This summer was so fruitful and unforgettable for me, made more passionate in law, and much more motivated to try harder and harder.

Nayra Gomes Mendes, post-graduated in Business Law from Fundação Getúlio Vargas de São Paulo (FGV-SP), currently practicing Law in a multinational company in São Paulo, Brazil

For the last six weeks, I had the pleasure to attend the summer course on Public and Private international Law at  The Hague Academy of International Law. Frankly, I feel that I am not the same lawyer, or even the same person, after this experience where it felt like I gained months of valuable experience in just a few short weeks.

In both the public and the private international law courses I had an intensive cultural exchange both during the courses and in our free time with the other students from more than 60 different nationalities.

During the classes, we received lectures from professors who came from universities all over the world on various subjects related to international law: arbitration, international disputes, contract law, family law, technology, data protection, intellectual property, among others. The focus during those various subjects has always been the practice of advocacy in these areas.

In addition, the course provided intensive contact with various international organizations based in The Hague, visits to embassies, and contact with the judges of the International Court of Justice. Including the Brazilian judge Antonio A. Cançado Trindade, my compatriot, who showed a tremendous love and knowledge of international law and who was kind enough to share with us the history of the Peace Palace, the Library and the Court.

As a corporate lawyer, I realized how important diplomacy is in the global economy and how it can aid companies that seek to establish their business worldwide. I was also surprised about the large number of multinational companies in The Netherlands.

I will always keep this memory in my heart and I am thankful for the friends I have made, the teachers that imparted so much wisdom on me and the administrative staff from the academy who were always there for me during these six incredible weeks.

Thank you!