Friday, April 7, 2017

Learning Outside the Classroom: Visit to "The City of Peace and Justice"

Students in the International Law concentration–ILaw in SAIS jargon – quickly realized one does not visit The Hague because of its weather. But sideways rain and constant wind couldn’t dampen the spirits of the SAIS Europe students who went from international organization to tribunal to NGO, seeking to better understand the functions of those working in the “City of Peace and Justice”.

First stop was Eurojust, an EU organization overseeing the cooperation between Member State judicial systems. A perfect antidote to those who claim that the EU is too unwieldy, Eurojust representative explained the process for dividing of cases between multiple countries involved, cooperation with non-EU partners, and the top three priorities—people smuggling, cyber warfare and terrorism. Crime, the refrain was, doesn’t stop at national borders.

Visit to the ICC

As ever with SAIS student, there was play mixed with our work. Thanks to a group member born and raised in The Hague, we got the inside scoop on the city, taking plenty of time to wander by the beautiful Parliaments old city and sample the local fare, and took a brief trip to Delft to try a Pakistan-Dutch fusion dinner and admire the famous waterways.

Visits to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) were the most hands-on of the two days, the former proceeded by a briefing from Amady Ba, a prominent Senegalese judge and Chief of International Cooperation. Sitting just meters away from the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) warlord Dominic Ongwen and five perpetrators of atrocities during the Bosnian war was both a chilling reminder of the need for international arbitration in the world’s largest-scale conflicts, as well as the reassurance that perpetrators can successfully be held accountable, albeit decades after the crimes have been committed.

At the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Rounding out the trip were visits to the non-profit Hague Institute for the Internationalization of Law (HiiL), International Development Law Organization, and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Talking with program coordinators from each gave us students a good idea of just how many professional intersections exist with international law, in the form of judicial capacity-building, development, and multilateral reform movements.

Although brief, the study trip to The Hague was an informative one, covering ideas and projects from land rights programs in Burundi all the way to judicial advising in Kenya. It now remains to be seen how those SAIS students who imagine a future in international law chose to carve out a niche within the professional world into we gained such rich insight.

Emily Ashby
SAIS Europe 2017

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