Students Spend Their Summer with Professor Murphy in Geneva

Murphy with Students
Rising 3Ls Elle Ross, Marta Bylica and Carmen Hargis-Villaneauva (back row from left to right), with Professor Murphy (bottom right) and GW alum Nilufer Oral, SJD, '12, the Turkish member of the Commission and a Professor at Istanbul Bilgi University.
August 08, 2017

This summer three GW Law students traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, to work as assistants at the U.N. International Law Commission (ILC). 

Rising 3Ls, Elle Ross and Marta Bylica received fellowships made available by GW Law and spent their summer in Geneva. They served as assistants to Professor Sean D. Murphy, Manatt/Ahn Professor of International Law, who is the U.S. member of the U.N. International Law Commission. "Spending ten weeks at the United Nations in Geneva was an incredible opportunity, especially taking into account the fact that we are still law students," Ms. Bylica said. "Being in one room with over thirty legal experts from around the world, analyzing their statements, and coming up with and researching possible responses has taught me a great deal about the field of international law."

A third student, Carmen Hargis-Villanueva, JD '18, was an assistant for the Egyptian member. Ms. Hargis-Villanueva shared that her work consisted of analyzing reports and drafting memos and statements for Ambassador Hussein Hassouna to read and present to the ILC. Her analysis focused on whether the reports truly reflected international law on the topic by researching national laws, judgments, and more. "I learned an incredible amount on how and why international law is developed in the way that it is, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by people who care deeply about the impact of these topics on peoples' lives," Ms. Hargis-Villanueva said.

Professor Murphy shared that the students all worked on projects for the codification and progressive development of international law, including on crimes against humanity, provisional application of treaties, immunity of State officials, and protection of the atmosphere. "This fellowship provided an excellent opportunity to study in-depth several important topics in public international law as well as understand more about how the International Law Commission and the United Nations in general operates," Ms. Ross said.

Created by the United Nations in 1948, the ILC consists of 34 distinguished legal scholars, practitioners, and government officials elected by the U.N. General Assembly. Together, the members of the ILC initiate studies and make recommendations to encourage the development and codification of international law.