Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize spoke at Law Employment Network Event

On 25 May, The Hague University of Applied Sciences was right at the centre of the Law Employment Network Event: a platform attracting 250 students of more than 70 nationalities and 60 alumni as well as professionals and representatives from universities located all over the world. This conference featured nationally and internationally recognised speakers, including one very special one: a representative from the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), an organisation that won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017.

THUAS lecturer Aurelien Lorange was instrumental eight years ago in establishing the Law Employment Network Event (ENE). ‘I wanted to offer students, legal organisations and knowledge institutions a platform for networking and sharing knowledge. I also wanted it to draw attention to the International & European Law programme at The Hague University of Applied Science, a programme with more than a thousand students and especially the ones about to graduate,’ he said. ‘It would be a way of introducing employers in the legal profession to our school and bringing them into contact wit our students and alumni. Not only would our students have an opportunity to meet students from other countries, but they would also be able to explore the possibilities of an internship or career with a leading legal organisation. We could thus create opportunities for talented law students as well as for students in other degree programmes such as European Studies.’

An international networking conference

This was the seventh year for the annual ENE What started eight years ago as a small-scaled initiative has progressively turned into an annual event with more than 220 participating organisations (including legal organisations, NGOs, embassies and agencies of the EU and local government agencies) and 34 universities from all over the world. Lorange: ‘This year, we even welcomed around 40 new organisations including ones from the UK, France, Spain, Brazil and the US. This gives students a great chance to enhance their career opportunities. Contacts with professionals and legal organisations at the conference offer students a “foot in the door” for an internship, work experience during projects and even employment with an organisation after graduation.’

Expanding networks

According to Lorange, the ENE is also intended to create a bridge linking THUAS, knowledge institutions and legal organisations from various countries. ‘The event is a useful occasion for exploring the possibilities of finding new international partners for our International & European Law programme. After all, we want to expand our collaborations on new projects with other institutions of higher education in other parts of the world,’ he said. ‘And we also want to showcase how our International & European Law programme is taking shape and thus convince organisations that our students are capable of working on complex legal issues. At the same time, we want to make students aware that expanding their network provides an excellent basis for opening up a world of opportunities.’

A world without nuclear weapons

This year’s conference featured various prominent speakers talking about developments involving the field of international law. The highlight of the event was the visit by a representative of ICAN: an international coalition of NGOs in a hundred countries committed to a world without nuclear weapons. ‘Last year, ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize for its groundbreaking work on developing an historic UN treaty on nuclear disarmament that was supported by 122 nations. The fact that an NGO has succeeded in having so many UN member states sign this treaty is truly unique,’ said Lorange. In preparation for the ENE, ICAN organised a meeting between Lorange and the Hibakusha (the name given to the survivors of the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima in 1945). The ICAN representative from Japan also talked about the far-reaching consequences this had and is still having for the population. ‘It was the basis for a film to be shown to students and our other guests during the conference.’

ICAN’s strategy

After the film, a discussion was held between Selma van Oostwaard from the steering committee of PAX.nl (one of ICAN’s member organisations) and Michail Vagias, Senior Lecturer in Law, followed by questions from the audience. ‘During this interview, Van Oostwaard addressed the strategy used for developing the treaty and related her ideas about why the Netherlands was one of the countries that did not sign the treaty,’ said Lorange. Future developments were also considered. At the time the treaty was being signed, a nuclear threat suddenly came to a head due to the escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea. No one could imagine then that a rapprochement between North and South Korea would occur and that the government leaders would embrace at the DMZ. Visitors could also visit the ICAN stand located in the ‘market place’ where organisations could present themselves.

Creating a learning environment

‘After the conference, we will talk with ICAN about creating a learning environment allowing students to work on projects and contribute to research,’ said Lorange. ‘They might, for example, want to write their thesis based on issues related to ICAN’s activities . One might want to analyse treaties aimed at banning both nuclear and chemical weapons. Another could conduct research into the role that NGOs could play in international peacekeeping and diplomacy. These or any other issues would be relevant to their International & European Law programme.’