LLM Student Selected for Third Year in a Row for International Court of Justice Fellowship

Aysa Guzel Ozturk
May 12, 2020

For the third consecutive year, a GW Law LLM student has been selected to participate in the Judicial Fellows Programme at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations with headquarters in The Hague. Ayşe Güzel Öztürk, LLM Class of 2020, will serve as a law clerk for the International Court of Justice during the 2020-21 year. 

The Judicial Fellows Programme was established in 1999 "to enable recent law graduates to gain experience working at the ICJ. It improves participants’ understanding of international law and of the Court’s procedures by actively involving them in the work of the Court and allowing them to build on their experience under the supervision of a judge."

GW Law is among a select number of law schools from around the world invited to nominate candidates each year for the prestigious fellowship. The Court selects about 15 fellows per year from a group of candidates with very strong academic records and an interest in international law illustrated in their studies, publications, and work experience. Ms. Güzel Öztürk was one of two candidates nominated by the faculty of GW Law’s International and Comparative Law Program.

Regarding her selection, Ms. Güzel Öztürk said, “I am grateful for this opportunity. This is certainly a gift to which I cannot claim any entitlement. I consider being selected for this fellowship from among the pool of very competent candidates as a huge responsibility.  It will be a great honor and a unique learning experience to work for one of the ICJ judges, and I am eager to learn the life cycle of cases before the ICJ and experience how the ‘World Court’ functions from within. During my time at the Court and the rest of my career, I am keen to contribute to the interpretation and development of international law and the peaceful resolution of international disputes.”

She expressed her gratitude to GW Law and others for preparing her for the fellowship. “I am thankful to Dean Rosa Celorio, my professors at GW Law, and my supervisors at the World Bank for their support throughout the application process. I am also especially grateful to my husband for his enduring support and encouragement.”

Rosa Celorio, Associate Dean for International and Comparative Legal Studies and Burnett Family Professorial Lecturer in International and Comparative Law and Policy, said, “Our program is so proud of Ayşe and her accomplishment. She is an outstanding student and will make great contributions to international law in the future. We are also grateful to the International Court of Justice for continually giving our LLM students the opportunity to obtain this invaluable exposure to the workings of the Court. It is a testament to the strength of our students and their future leadership in this field.”

Ms. Güzel Öztürk received her first law degree from Galatasaray University Faculty of Law in Turkey. She was awarded the outstanding success scholarship by the Turkish Prime Ministry. As a student in international law, Ms. Güzel Öztürk participated in several international moot court competitions, including the International Criminal Court Moot Court Competition, ELSA Human Rights Moot Court Competition, and Concours Européen des Droits de l'Homme René Cassin. To maximize her exposure to international law, she attended summer schools at a number of universities throughout Europe. These experiences broadened her knowledge base by adding a global dimension.

After graduation, Ms. Güzel Öztürk decided to pursue an LLM at GW Law, where she was granted a Thomas Buergenthal Scholarship and completed her LLM degree in International and Comparative Law with an International Human Rights Law concentration. Most of her coursework throughout the academic year has been devoted to courses on different realms of international law, including international human rights law, international environmental law, human rights of women, and conflicts of law.

In the fall semester, she was selected by the International and Comparative Law program to be part of a research team to support the work of the current UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants for a thematic report on the immigration detention of children. In the spring semester, she worked as a legal intern in the Environmental and International Law Practice Group at the World Bank Legal Vice Presidency. During her time at the Bank, she researched and analyzed different topics of international law, including international criminal law, international water resource management, and sources of international law.

Nayomi Goonesekere, LLM '19, was selected to participate in the programme last year and is serving as a law clerk for Judge Patrick L. Robinson of the ICJ. Sara Mansour Fallah, LLM '18, was selected to participate in the programme during the 2018-19 period and pursued her judicial fellowship with Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf, President of the ICJ.