From 1 September 2016 to 30 June 2017, I worked as one of the university trainees at the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. I was assigned to H.E. Judge Peter Tomka (Slovakia). My traineeship/clerkship coincided with a number of very different cases currently on the Court’s docket, including disputes concerning diplomatic immunities, financing of terrorism, racial discrimination, and maritime delimitation. It was extremely useful for me to engage with the different areas of international law in a more practical fashion than I have been used to in academic life, and to learn about the general procedure followed at the Court for hearing and deciding cases.
My ten months at the Court were largely structured according to the Court’s calendar and the oral hearings thus appear as particular highlights. It was most interesting to see how differently cases can be argued in terms of strategy and style even before the International Court of Justice, where the procedure is rather inflexible. Alongside the hearings and working on the cases for Judge Tomka, I also benefitted more generally from discussing questions of international law with my colleagues from diverse backgrounds and jurisdictions. I thoroughly enjoyed the debates both before and inside the Court, and emerge from my traineeship with a considerably enriched perspective of international law.
It was both a pleasure and a privilege to work at the Court, and I would like to thank the Law Faculty and particularly the Public International Law Group for providing me with the opportunity and financial support for the duration of my stay at the Hague. Oxford’s continuing involvement in this programme is a testament to the strong tradition of public international law in the University.