Discovering Den Haag (Part I): Courses at the Hague Academy of International Law

I just returned from an exciting first visit to  The Netherlands.  Brooklyn Law School offered me the wonderful opportunity to attend a course on international legal information and law at the Peace Palace in Den Haag.  The Peace Palace (shown below) houses both the International  Court of Justice and the Permanent Court of Arbitration.  One of the highlights of my course was Judge Abdul Koroma’s discussion of the ICJ’s work.  I felt like part of a “world team” when Judge Koroma stated to his audience of law librarians: “I know how much I am indebted to you” [to help the ICJ achieve its objectives].  This week, the ICJ swore in two new Members of the Court: Judge Xue Hanqin (China) and Judge Joan Donoghue (United States ).  Thus, for the first time, two women are part of the ICJ.                            


BLS graduates who are interested in international law: the Hague Academy of International Law conducts six-week summer courses in this beautiful venue.  Law school graduates from many countries attend these courses.  Noted lecturers discuss both public and private international law.  This is the program of the 2011 summer course.  A merit-based scholarship program provides assistance to about 20% of the students who attend the Hague Academy’s summer courses.  (See also the Hague Academy’s FAQs, heading: Scholarships.)  Students of the Hague Academy can use the outstanding Peace Palace Library.   

I contacted the The Hague Academy and confirmed that summer courses are conducted at the level of postgraduate in international law.  The summer courses are open to:

  • Candidates who have completed at least four years of studying at university, including subjects of international law, and who can prove to the Curatorium that they possess a sufficient knowledge of the subject.
  • Candidates holding a 3-year law degree at the opening of the session of the Academy.
  • All candidates must master one of the two working languages (French or English).

In 2004, the Hague Academy also began to conduct an annual Seminar for Advanced Studies tailored to experienced practitioners.  The theme of the January 2011 advanced seminar is: Security in the International Law of the Sea. 

Lectures from the Hague Academy’s courses are published in a series available in BLS Library:  Collected Courses of the Hague Academy of International Law/Recueil des Cours de l’Académie de Droit International de La Haye.   BLS Library owns the Collected Courses in print.  There is a free online index to this series that researchers can search by lecture topic, author or year.  I often highlight the Collected Courses to BLS students who are researching international law topics.

The Hague is an elegant historic city, which is perfect, not only to study, but also to have a  Heineken with colleagues.  If you’re not the beer-drinking type, outdoor cafes feature fresh o.j.  In the Hague, The Binnenhof (“Inner Court”) and an adjacent modern building are the meeting places of the Dutch Parliament.  On the third Tuesday of September (“Prinsjesdag”), Queen Beatrix will announce her policies for the year in an address to the members of the Dutch Parliament.   

If I haven’t hooked you yet, the Hague is a short tram ride from the beach!  Lekker (a beachfront restaurant steps from the North Sea), offered the most delicious fish I ever ate. 

All in all, the Hague offered an astonishing combination of history, great cuisine, friendly people and easy-t0-master tram and train service.  Watch for future posts about my trip!

Jean Davis, Librarian & Adjunct Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School