#UoGLawTrip18 – A Review
22nd February 2018
After a busy week for the international field trip, students have taken the time to reflect on the trip and provide some of their views and insights into the institutions we visited. A jam-packed schedule meant we were able to see various countries and institutions/courts to give students a brief understanding of the significance of international and regional legal regimes. These institutions comprised:
International Court of Justice: this is the permanent judicial organ for the United Nations that hears disputes and allegations between States. We were lucky enough to receive our talk in the Court itself, based in the Peace Palace.
International Criminal Court: established under the Rome Treaty, this court has been hearing cases for 15 years and has jurisdiction to try cases involving 123 States. The Court can consider applications made in relation to allegations of international crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. One student noted about this Court ‘doing research on all the institutions prior to the trip, the ICC was the one that I found the most interesting. Actually seeing it and learning more about its daily function further increased my interest’.
Commission & Council of the European Union: in Brussels, we visited both these institutions. The Commission is responsible for proposing new legislation and ‘guarding the Treaties’ whilst the Council is comprised of representatives for Member States and are jointly responsible for passing the legislation. As one student said it was a good experience to be ‘sat in the chairs where leaders of the world have sat’. It was interesting to hear about the institution’s perceptions of the EU post-Brexit with discussions including the possibility of an EU defence unit and a single currency.
EFTA Court: the European Free Trade Area comprises States who have signed the European Economic Agreement but have not joined the European Union. There was much academic value in visiting this Court as the students were able to consider whether this would be an option for the United Kingdom post-Brexit.
CJEU: We were met at the Court of Justice of the European Union by Peter who showed us around the Court and took us into the Grand Chamber. The students commented on how majestic the court room was, and we had a mini-quiz about the EU. It would appear that the lasting memory of this visit was Peter: ‘I loved the CJEU because the tour guide was amazing!’ ‘I enjoyed the tour guide, he was brilliant, and the building was beautiful and the court room was amazing!’
ECHR: on our final day in Strasbourg we visited the European Court of Human Rights and met a British associate lawyer in the UK division. He told us about his work at the court and also some of the cases he has dealt with, including the recently-publicised Charlie Gard case. Student opinion included: ‘It was interesting to get a more in-depth understanding of human rights and to hear about cases regarding human rights such as the Charlie Gard case which I had followed in the news.’ ‘I am very interested in human rights and it was great to see the building and talk to a UK lawyer who works there and learn about the types of cases they work on.’
The trip was enjoyed by all the students, and finished off with a boat tour of Strasbourg and the chance to explore the lovely city.
Some concluding remarks from the students:
- I really enjoyed the trip. It provided me with the opportunity to contextualise my current learning of EU law while also emphasising the importance of the law on an international front. Going on the trip has given me more clarity with regards to choosing my optional studies at Level 6.
- It was really interesting to see and hear the perspectives of other EU citizens regarding key issues such as Brexit. The trip itself, was fun, engaging, and insightful.
- One of my favourite institutions to visit this week was the International Criminal Court. I genuinely felt like that Court existed for the people. Similarly with the Court of Human Rights. It was so good to learn about the law being applied for the people it is created to protect. It was wonderful that the representatives that spoke to us from both institutions seemed so passionate about what their institution does. I’d love to be a part of something like that one day.