Wednesday, 26 March 2014

ICJ and Trips Away

Good morning everyone,

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in Master’s land, complete with presentations, Court visits and weekend trips. To start with, our SIM clinic program wrapped up our final research project with a cool fifty-page report to show for it – the culmination of two weeks intensive work filled to the brim with group meetings and short deadlines. It is a bittersweet ending to one of my favourite parts of the program. I’m happy to have the final deadline out of the way, but I will certainly miss the interesting research work and collaborating with the members of the team.

As timing would have it, I got the chance to celebrate the end of the Clinic program with a short weekend away in Brussels. When you live in Utrecht, it is entirely possible for classmates to have rented a car for an impromptu weekend road trip to a nearby capital and if you’re lucky, for you to join in the fun.  Since integrating into Utrecht life, I’ve heard plenty about the ultimate debate between the Belgian and Dutch: who has the better mayonnaise? Yes, they take their fries seriously and the mayonnaise is very, very important, so of course I had to check it out. The verdict is still out on that one (although I am starting to see what all the fuss is about), but I can say for certain the ease of travelling to other cities is just one more thing I love about living in the Netherlands.

As beautiful as the Belgian capital is, the highlight of last week definitely has to be a trip to the International Court of Justice. The students in our LLM were able to attend part of the hearing of Serbia v. Croatia (a longstanding case at the ICJ) at the Court in The Hague, just ahead of the nuclear summit that is going on in the city at the moment. After a quick lunch in the majestic building, we had the privilege of meeting Judge Cancado Trindade to talk about the progress of the case to date (with no opinions, of course), the workings of the ICJ and certain aspects of international law. An afternoon well spent, and just one more piece of motivation, meeting those whose jobs many of us might someday aspire to have.

Monday afternoon marked the second last presentation required of our final Master’s classes. The presentations gave us a chance to outline our in-progress final essays to the class, judge each other’s work and receive feedback. Soon after, many of my classmates headed to the airport for flights home, making the most of the fact that there are no classes for the rest of the week. After the pang of homesickness that St. Patrick’s celebrations brought about, I was happy to be on a morning flight to Ireland. The course work comes with me, but it’s nice to have the comforts of home and a change of scenery every once in a while.

While I make the most of home life, I look forward to a few busy weeks ahead as the finish line approaches (of required courses, at least). Moot practice will begin properly next week as the ICC Moot Court team gears up for the competition in May. The many desktop folders on my computer are slowly dwindling and I will soon be left with one entitled “Moot Court” and the ever-so-daunting “Thesis” folder that has yet to be opened.

Until the next time/Tot de volgende keer!


Outside the Peace Palace in The Hague

LLM Human Rights and Criminal Justice students and teachers with Judge Cancado Trindade 

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