The best things that happened to me was making new friends from different countries and learning from our differences

Vreede scholar, 2011

Walk through The Hague and you will quickly notice that you are not in an ordinary city. Indeed, the streets you pass will be lined with headquarters of international organizations and many international courts and tribunals, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.

I think it is perfectly understandable for anyone, like me, interested in International Law to be excited by the idea of spending three weeks in the “City of Peace and Justice,” and specifically while attending the prestigious Academy of International Law. I could not wait for the start of the Public International Session to which I was admitted.

Although there are many buses to get to The Hague Academy of International Law, the tramway seems to be more appreciated by the commuters. When you hear “Vredespaleis” you must get off and be ready to be amazed by the beauty of the majestic Peace Palace.

The first day in the Academy was convivial; I was impressed by the organisation, the professionalism and the efforts made by the staff to make every participant feel comfortable and ready for the session. We were provided with a badge that gave us access to the Academy facilities, the Peace Palace library and free use of public transport. It was an awesome start!

Maybe it is not necessary to mention that the lectures in The Hague Academy are given by highly qualified professors and practitioners coming from different regions of the globe, with different backgrounds and original approaches to International Law, enjoying their lectures for three whole weeks was such a rare privilege.

However, I have to mention the General course given by Professor Giorgio Gaja dealing with the topic of “Protection of the Interests of the International Community”. His original thoughts made the course so exceptional.

There were many interesting lectures in the morning dealing with different subjects related to temporary International Law. The evening seminars were a more intimate setting to talk about the morning’s classes with the professors.

The directed studies were one of the most interesting activities organised by the Academy. Reserved for a limited number of participants and directed by Professors Théodore Christakis and Stefan Talmon, it was such an exciting discussion group. We debated on many current and controversial topics related to International Law.

The Peace Palace Library (PPL), this name sounds like a symphony in the ears of any researcher in International Law. I could find an unlimited number of books and articles related to my research field. The library staff was very available; they even made photocopies for us and charged as if we had made them ourselves. This helped to save much time for my research. It was a real dream and I think it could happen only in the PPL!

Also, we were able to download many articles and the famous Recueil des Cours for free. If you have this chance too, be careful, you could, like me, become addicted to downloading, and the staff of the Library will not necessarily appreciate it. So when you visit the library, be moderate!

I have also to mention the time for us. He contacted the embassies based in The Hague and asked them if they would organise a day for the participants to visit. The wonderful reception time for us. He contacted the embassies based in The Hague and asked them if they would organise a day for the participants to visit. The wonderful reception by the Mayor of The Hague and a meeting with the Registrar of the International Court of Justice took place by his initiative as well. He also organised a warm reception with his wife in their own house.  Almost every day they hosted a group of participants. I was, like every participant, so touched by the hospitality of Mr. and Ms. Daudet.

In the middle of the session I received a message from the Rabbani Foundation. I was invited, with Safouh Zeino, to a “special” luncheon at the Carlton Hotel. The attention that the Rabbani foundation members paid to us, along with their kindness and thoughtfulness, during this lunch, touched me very deeply.  I have to recognise that I felt special this day. The atmosphere was quite friendly; we talked about many subjects and hopefully it will be a partnership for the future. The members’ sense of humour made the meeting so warm and great. I would never forget it.

Of course, the participants come to The Hague with the objective to take advantage of the teaching and the intellectual activities framed by the Academy. While this is true, it does not mean at all that you cannot enjoy yourself after courses. Indeed, The Hague is the best place to mix learning and pleasure. It is not so far away from Amsterdam and Rotterdam, so it was possible for me to visit those two wonderful cities. The Hague can be enjoyed whether going out with other participants, or if it is sunny, by taking the tramway and heading to the Scheveningen beach.

The Association of Attendees and Alumni of the Hague Academy organised numerous cultural activities for the students, such as visits to some neighbouring cities, International Food Day inside the Academy, parties, and visits to some international tribunals. I still remember my visit to The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; I attended a tribunal session, was just in front of the judges and could see everything. It was quite strange for me to see live what I used to watch only on YouTube!

To end, I would like to mention that The Hague Academy is the ideal place to practice languages and live in a pure international environment made by different cultures. I think that one of the best things that happened to me was making new friends from different countries and learning from our differences.

After three weeks of intense and stimulating intellectual and human experience I went back to my “regular life” with not only a new experience to put on my resume and more knowledge, but also with stronger determination and better motivation. I hope that everyone interested in International Law can have the chance to go through this experience.

I am sincerely grateful to everyone who contributed to make my stay in The Hague so wonderful and especially to the Rabbani Foundation that granted me with a scholarship covering my stay and travel expenses.

SEGHIRI Abderrezak,
Doctoral researcher in International Law