The Activities Committee organizes at least one activity per month, during the whole academic year. These activities include lectures, excursions, debate evenings, law firm visits, workshops and movie nights, which are all related to international and European law in some way.
Additional, the Activities Committee has the privilege to organize two study trips each year, which will take place in November and May. The first one is a short trip of three days focusing on European law and the second trip lasts a week, emphasizing aspects of international law. The committee looks for destinations where we can offer students a sight of the more practical level of the law profession and will put together an interesting and challenging program for the trips, including visits to embassies, non-governmental and governmental organizations, such as various institutions of the United Nations, European Union, the Council of Europe, foreign law firms and universities. This year's European study trip went to Strasbourg, and our international study trip has destination Bangkok!
This year we also have a new goal for this committee: organizing small courses for Legal English and International English, in order to give students the opportunity to become acquainted with the professional language in an intensive yet informal way.
The Activities Committee for 2013/2014 so far consists of:
This year the European study trip went Strasbourg, which is also called the capital of Europe. Over more than twenty important European institutions are seated in Strasbourg, for example the European Parliament and the Council of Europe. Another reason to go to this city is to catch a glimpse of the rich history. We went on a visit with a group of thirty students from the 26th till the 28th of November 2012.
The three days were richly filled. On the first day we gathered in the early morning at Jaarbeursplein in Utrecht. On time, about 6:10 am everyone was present and we could head for Strasbourg. The journey proceeded smoothly and in the late afternoon we arrived at the hotel. When everyone had brought their bags to their room we went to the city centre for a first impression. The centre was in Christmas sphere: there was a Christmas market and there were lights and decorations, everywhere. We had some free time to walk around. In a nice attempt to stay was warm, we enjoyed a nip of glue wine and hot chocolate. About an hour later we started the city tour. We were introduced to the centre its different areas. We were not acquainted with the city, so unfortunately our tour ended in wandering around for a while. As the weather became worse, we decided that finishing the tour was no option. A warm meal in a nearby Italian restaurant was welcome since it had been a long day.
The next day two interesting visits were scheduled. In the morning we went to the Council of Europe, where we were lucky to see the conference room for the big meetings (containing over a thousand seats). Our tour guide told us about the Council’s history and its function. Afterwards we also got some information from a staff member, who gave us insight on how it is to work for the Council of Europe.
The visit to Eurocorps in the afternoon was the surprise of this journey; none of us had any clue of what it was about! Eurocorps is the army of Europe, but Dutch army men do not participate in this organisation. The spokesman spoke in a very amusing way, combining historical facts with lots of jokes.
Afterwards there were offered drinks in the canteen, where many took their chance to ask questions about Eurocorps. By bus we went to the city centre were we had some free time, many went shopping or walked around. At the last evening in Strasbourg we dined in a very cosy restaurant in the city centre. We decided not to go out, because most of us were a bit tired but eventually almost no one slept early, too much fun together, having good talks and laughs.
The last day we attended a hearing at the European Court of Human Rights. Via a video screen we could follow the process of Vinter and others vs. The United Kingdom, in the conference room of the ECHR. The legal question that arose in that case was: "Is there a violation of article 3 when someone is sentenced for life and practically got no chance of an early release?". It was interesting to follow the arguments of the parties since that theme looked already crystal clear. Afterwards two staff members, the one who examines applications and a judge in training, gave us a presentation. Then we headed back to the hotel to get our stuff en go back to the Netherlands.
Although the weather was not sunny, the rainy days did not keep us from discovering Strasbourg and having a good time. New friendships were born and we learned a whole lot. It was a great study strip!
On the 19th of October Urios visited the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague. Mr. Joost Hoogveld en Mrs. Charlotte Schillemans gave us a lecture about the work that they do at the Ministry.
At first, Mr. Hoogveld provided us with information about the Ministry in general: its departments and the people that work there. He works at the legal affairs department and gives advice to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, among others. He gave us some interesting examples of issues that were presented to him.
Mrs. Schillemans works at the department litigation and is a delegate of the Dutch government at the European Court of Justice. She gave us a case that we had to solve and discuss, and it turned out that this was a case that she had to plead for before the Court a couple of weeks earlier in Brussels. After we solved the case, we discussed about the topic, which was European immigration.
After two hours, the visit came to an end. On behalf of everyone we can say it was a memorable day!
The first activity of Urios of this academic year was held on Monday the first of October: a debate on “Maritime Strategies and Piracy”.
Two highly esteemed guests were invited to speak on this topic:
1. Niel Woudstra (Captain of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Associate professor at the Netherlands Defence Academy)
2. Michiel Hijmans (Deputy Permanent Military Representative at NATO and EU of the Netherlands Ministry of Defense, and former Commander of the Counter Piracy Operation Ocean Shield).
The evening was well visited, the Council Hall was practically fully occupied. We were pleased to welcome our members, other interested people and some new members.
The first speaker, Niels Woudstra, outlined the definitions of piracy and provided us with background information. He made us conscious of the strategic importance of oceans as well as the welfare they provide. Further, he informed us about key elements of maritime law and gave us an interesting insight of classic and modern maritime strategies with special attention to the position of the Netherlands.
After a short break, the second guest, Michiel Hijmans, set off to speak on the fight against piracy. Shocking images were shown of how an attack takes place. An active approach is necessary because piracy causes a huge amount of damages. In his presentation he also provided us with an oversight of the positive results of the maritime strategies against piracy.
Maritime strategies and piracy remain hot topics and this subject includes a wide variety of different perspectives within a complex legal framework. We could discuss and debate on this highly interesting theme for hours but time restrictions applied.
Various questions and remarks were raised from the audience. It was pointed out that if you do not have enough evidence, it is in fact a crime if you drop alleged pirates on a beach miles away. The guest speakers responded that you have to take into account the different interests in such situations. Another visitor gave a passionate plea that he was happy with the good work against piracy but that he came from Somalia and knew the underlying problem. He said that you should solve deeper problems such as unemployment if you want to root out piracy. The guest speakers could sympathise with that issue and underlined that you have to judge the case and problematic from different angles.
All in all, it was a highly informative and memorable evening with excellent speakers and an interesting theme. Discussions proceeded informally with a drink in pub ‘Lokaal 9’.
On the 25th of February Urios visited the Dutch head quarters of Amnesty International in Amsterdam. We participated in a workshop that deals with the 'Demand Dignity'-campaign for economic, social and cultural rights.
Shell and the Nigerian government have profited from the oil in the Nigerdelta in Nigeria for more than 50 years. Its inhabitants are sometimes standing knee-deep in oil caused by leakages and cannot sustain themselves because of the polluted environment. They do not share in the enormous wealth that the oil provides. The 2009 Amnesty report Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta is used as a guide to examine these subjects. The central issue was whether multinationals such as Shell can be held accountable if they violate basic human rights. By means of a role play our group learned more about all the factors that are playing a role in this complex issue.
Some reactions of our participants were:
'I have always imagined myself working for an NGO after I graduate from University. Today I have learned a lot about the way NGO's, and in particular about the way in which Amnesty International operates in the field and tries to achieve it's goals.'
'It was interesting to find out about the process that starts when a conflict comes into existence. As a law student you are used to analizing conflicts from a judicial perspective, but today the focus was more on the role of politics.'
OTHER PAST VISITS
|Last Updated on Sunday, 20 October 2013 20:50|