UN Vienna 2018

The one-day LL.M. study trip to the International Organizations in Vienna was scheduled on the 18th May 2018. The program included a guided tour through the VIC and three lectures on the work of Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). The tour started with the guide informing us about do’s and don’ts of the VIC premises. After the brief introduction into the UN, the students were guided through the conference halls and explained how the conferences are conducted. Shortly after the guided tour, the first lecture was given by Ms. Jenny Nielsen, public information officer of the CTBTO, focusing on the work of the CTBTO. The lecture mainly focused on the history of the CTBTO with main emphasis on who they are and what they do. Additionally, the lecture elaborated on the legal status of the CTBT which has not yet entered into force due to a small amount of states that had ratified it, so far only 166. The spokesperson also communicated about the issues faced by the CBTBO. The one hour talk concluded with a Q&A session. It was an interesting and interactive session.

Followed by the lecture on Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, the LL.M. students were given the opportunity to gain insights into the work of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Mr. Jean-Maurice Crete, section head for IAEA, very interestingly elaborated on the current topics of proliferation and safeguards of IAEA respectively. The students were firstly introduced into a historical overview of IAEA, followed by an explanation of the most important aspects of non-proliferation treaty and its main objectives. In this lieu, Mr. Jean-Maurice Crete emphasized the importance of the implementation of safeguards agreement, and demonstrated the necessity of state cooperation with the view of enabling IAEA to effectively address state’s completeness with nuclear standards, among others. Overall, the lecture was very interactive and students were able to grasp insightful knowledge into the work of IAEA.

The last session of the day was also one that my colleagues and I found to be the most unique. This extremely interesting talk was conducted by Mr. Niklas Hedman, Chief of the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section from the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Our classmate, Yukiko Kodachi Okumura is a member of his team and was also present. Mr. Hedman began by giving a brief introduction to the area of Space Law and the history of the field. He informed us about Space Law and how it includes topics as diverse as space and climate change, global health and disaster management, among many others. He also told us about remote sensing, where detailed images are taken of Earth for various purposes. Issues such as space debris and the impact this can have on future space-based activities were also discussed. He then went on to cover space law and its place within the framework of public international law, such as binding and non-binding instruments and General Assembly Resolutions. Additionally, Mr. Hedman spoke about the overlap between the technical and legal aspects of the field and the increased participation of private actors in outer space. At the end of the session, Mr. Hedman very graciously extended an invite to the group for the UNISPACE+50 events in mid-June 2018.

Study trip to the UN and Vienna International Centre was a wonderful academic experience. The LL.M. students are looking forward to their next study trip taking place in July 2018, in Geneva.

Tshering Pelden, Patricija Biskupic, Fahd-Hasan Qaisrani