Study Trip to The Hague 2017


Primarily, we would like to thank our trip coordinators, Univ.-Prof.ret.Dr.Gerhard HAFNER, Univ.-Prof.Dr.Frank HÖPFEL, Univ.-Prof.Dr.Ursula KRIEBAUM, Univ.-Prof.Dr.Christina BINDER Univ.-Ass.Dr.Andrea LEHNER and Univ.-Ass.MMag.Marion SCHARMÜLLER for their valuable guidance in making the trip informative and memorable. They inspired us to work as a team.

Our heartfelt thanks go to Austrian Embassy in The Hague, for hosting lunch reception and follow up throughout the trip.

Most importantly credit lies where it is due, the University of Vienna deserves utmost gratitude for organizing this trip in agreement with the visited international organizations.

Last but not least, appreciation is worthy for LL.M International legal studies students for their diligence in making the trip lively by being manageable and asking important questions in the meetings with these international organizations’ officials.


As a tradition, the University of Vienna organizes study trip to different organizations and places according to the field of studies and programs of students. In conjunction with this tradition, this year study trip was to The Hague, the seat of various international organizations 08/05/2017 -- 10/05/2007. The trip fortifies the theory of knowledge acquired in a class by visiting the actual implementer organizations in the field of international law. That is why it make it worthwhile studying in the University of Vienna.

The team composed of 4 students of international legal studies LL.M and other 10 law students among which 2 Ph.D. students.

This report includes only activities of 4 students of international legal studies program, moreover, it brief and concise. The report reflects only on the questions asked, the answers given to the questions were left out for the purpose of brevity.

Objectives are:

-          Fortifying the knowledge acquired in class by concrete practice

-          Experiencing the actual work of international judicial bodies.

-          Broadening the scope of knowledge by posing important questions

-          Going through actual court proceedings

Places Visited

On May 8, 2007, at 9:00 a.m 14 law students from the University of Vienna, international legal studies in LL.M and Ph.D. met in the Ibis Hotel in The Hague according to the trip plan. A welcome speech and program highlight were given by Univ-ass. Dr. Andrea LEHNER.

At 9:45 the team checked in the Europol gate. At exactly 10:00 a.m. Mr. Christian Wandl, Austria Europol liaison bureau gave a welcome speech and overview of Europol. In his speech, he emphasized on how the organization operates, the mandate, missions, and visions.  In the session, questions were posed by

 Mr Ambrose Olowo

1.      One of the arguments against the EU is the huge budget spending. The Europol appears to be a success in this regard when viewed from the viewpoint of her €115m 2017 budget. Although an increased from previous budgets, a decrease for the budget on the security of the Member States has been observed. What is the proportion of this reduction?

2.      Since prevention is better than cure, does Europol have a plan outside the continent to curb the situation of illegal migration by making recommendations to the EU Commission on sanctions against African leaders or demand for good governance? Sequel to the fact that Africa is rich enough to take care its population but for corruption and lack of good governance, many embark on the dangerous journey of seeking the evasive greener pasture.

Morning session was concluded at 11:30

At 13:30 in the afternoon on the same day the team arrived at the premises of International Criminal Court (ICC).  A General briefing was given by speaker of the organization.  The team attended the court proceeding of President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast and Lord Resistance Army commander of Uganda Mr. Dominic ongwen from 15:00 to 17:30.

Question asked:

1.      Mr. Ambrose: is there a dress code for the accused persons? Is it mandatory for them to wear a suit as seen in the pictures?

2.       Could Dominic  Ongwen be seen as a victim or criminal because he was abducted by Lord Resistance Army when he was 9 Years of old?

3.      How many legal practitioners is an accused person who has been confirmed indigent by the court entitled to?

4.      Mr. Berhane: why the prosecutor of ICC is chasing after African head of states while western government leaders commit a war crime, crime against humanity, genocide. Case in point could be Iraq which the inquiry commission of UK government concluded that there was reasonable ground to wage war. Unlike the African head of stated the prosecutor of ICC did not take any initiative to press charge against the culprits.

At 18:30 the team enjoyed dinner hosted by University of Vienna, and it concluded the program of the day.

Second day (09/05/2017)

The team met at Ibis hotel at 9:15 a.m and arrived in the peace palace, international court of justice and permanent court of arbitration, at 10:00 a.m. a briefing with regards to the court's history, jurisdiction, operating system was forwarded by Harry Aitken (Trainee for Judge Crawford ) and Teresa Mayr (Trainee for Judge Gevorgian) in the Great Hall of Justice. At last a brief tour of the building took place till 11:30 a.m and the team had a lunch break till afternoon session.

In the hours of the afternoon at about 14:00hrs the team arrived at special Tribunal for Lebanon. A representative of Judge Janet Nosworthy explained a brief history of establishment, the mandate, jurisdiction and applicable law of the tribunal.  The tribunal is currently hearing the case of Ayyash and at a prosecution level.

Mr. Ambrose posed one question:

how justifiable is a trial in absentia giving the cost incurred?

Briefing was presented by the registry office representative.  The uniqueness of this tribunal is the registry, prosecution and defense have a separate entity and budget (they work independently).

Two questions were posed by Mr. Berhane K. Arefaine:

1.      Why was the decision taken to establish the tribunal far away from the occurrence of the crime? Isn’t it cumbersome for the victims and witnesses to have their say?

2.      Do you have special detention center designated for the tribunal? Where do the criminals serve their term of prison after conviction?

Question by Ambrose:

Is the defense office accorded the level of significance it has now because of the unique process of trial in absentia?

At 15:10 the public relation officer explained briefly about the public gallery and entire building of the tribunal. Then comes the prosecutor who overviewed the case in dramatic and outstanding manner. The identification and screening method in which the criminals who killed the prime minister of Lebanon, Rafiki al-Hariri, was presented in a captivating manner. Regrettably, there was not in depth explanation in the defense part to rebut the prosecutor’s legal grounds, and evidence collection method for the court is only in the prosecution stage. The next year students may get the full picture when the defense begins presenting his/her case.

 The day’s session was dismissed at 16:40 p.m.

Question by Ambrose:

Why is the hall named after Antonio Cassese?

The third day 10/05/2017

The third-day visit was to the Eurojust, the agency which engaged in prosecuting serious crimes.  The team arrived at 9:50 a.m. an overview of the mandate, jurisdiction, vision, and mission of the agency were explained by Reehard SANTELER deputy to the national member for Austria Eurojust and Hannes Glantschnig EJTN trainee prosecutor PPO Innsbruck.

One of the questions posed by Mr Berhane K. Arefaine:

1.      There seems to be an overlap in the tasks and mandates between Europol and Eurojust, why we need to have two separate institutions for related tasks? Wouldn’t it be better to merge these two institutions/agencies for the purpose of efficiency and a better result?

Ambrose also asked what roles judges play in such an institution coming from a common law background, which has enormous regard for judges.

In the same day at 12:00 the team of the University of Vienna and other invited guests gathered at the residence of Austrian Ambassador to the Netherlands for lunch reception hosted by Embassy of Austria. H.E the Ambassador explained the significance of this tradition of a tour of a university student to the international organizations and, the role of Austria in these organization. Eventually, the study trip officially concluded at 2:00 p.m. on May 10/05/2017.

Conclusion and recommendation

We firmly believe that this well organized, and memorable study tour broadens our horizon of professional knowledge as lawyers. Our conceptual and academic skill with personal and live experience in these international judicial organizations motivated every participant to work relentlessly within the bounds of tasks assigned to him.

That is why we strongly recommend that the University of Vienna to keep on with the tradition of visiting international organizations/NGOs to enhance student knowledge with real world experiences.


Berhane Kahsai AREFAINE, Eritrea (LL.M. Program 2016-2017)
Ambrose OLOWO, Nigeria (LL.M. Program 2016-2017)