One good thing about studying in Utrecht is that you will never be alone in the long and arduous process of learning. When I first came here and faced the student life, I was amazed by the number of study associations and about their endless opportunities to get involved. There is loads of extra-curricular work and activities to do for every type of committed student. Hence, since the beginning of the year I became part of Urios Study Association, which is specifically aimed at international and European law students. Apart from the hard work that members of the study association put into publishing Curious, the member’s magazine (which is of course open to anyone interested) and into the prestigious Utrecht Journal of International andEuropean Law, the committees also organize study trips.
One of these was carried out few days earlier in The Hague, where Urios and Ad Informandum, together with representatives from the University’s Career Services visited the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for ex Yugoslavia.
The journey began at the Peace Palace, a stunning building whose construction was quite an ambitious project. Through the very informative tour in the visitor’s centre, the participants had the opportunity to delve into the history behind its design and the aspirations of that generation to foster peace between the countries. The first stone of the Palace was cast in the spring of 1907 during the second Peace Conference and every country contributed with precious materials in its construction. Vases were sent from China and Hungary, Turkey and Persia donated carpets, wood and stone came from Scandinavia and Brazil, whereas marble from Italy. It is undoubtedly a breathtaking architecture and definitely one of the places to visit while in The Hague. The Peace Palace is the host building of the ICJ and its sessions take place in the Great Hall of Justice, on the right side of the building. During the visit, we had the opportunity to speak to one representative from the Court’s information department, who alongside explaining the main reasons of the existence of the Court and practical matters related to specific cases, also gave some tips and tricks for those interested for an internship. Naturally, if you browse their website online, you’ll also find the relevant information in a blink.
The visit to ICTY was equally fascinating and informative. From the horrors of the First World War embedded in the history of the Peace Palace, we jumped into the fight for freedom of the ex Yugoslavian republics and the crimes that were committed not so long ago. The welcoming staff of ICTY had prepared a very interesting documentary for us, of the notorious Prijedor massacre, known as the ethnic cleansing campaign committed by the Serb political and military leadership mostly againstBosniak civilians. ICTY was established in 1993 by the United Nations in response to reports of such mass atrocities taking place in the former Yugoslavia and it has been quite successful in its mission, with 161 individuals indicted by the court. Although rumours that ICTY is going to close down soon are up and running, we got trusted information from the internal staff that internships are still possible.
And what would be the best end for a day filled with useful information and history? Surely some “gezellige” networking drinks afterwards in Millers bar, enjoying bitterballen and of course, beers. Therefore, my other advice if you ever happen to study in Utrecht is: join a study association! You get to enrich your experiences, expand the network and make cool study trips!