International Law Certification Course 2020
With almost three decades to the establishment of the Research Society of International Law, a foundational objective of the organization has been to promote an understanding of International Law amongst the young professionals and students in Pakistan. The aim has been to fill the gap within the existing legal education system with regards to various specializations of international law and create experts who are capable of understanding this unique area of the law and represent Pakistan at international forums.
Since 2005, RSIL has hosted the International Law Certification Course for students and young professionals seeking greater knowledge about international law. Annually these participants have been invited to the RSIL premises in Lahore and Islamabad to gain an in-depth understanding of both the basic framework of international law and those fields in which Pakistan places a particular interest.
This year RSIL upheld this tradition despite the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting the ILCC completely online. With an amalgamation of online classes via zoom along with a specialized learning management system created to host additional learning materials and assessments, this year’s certification course was designed to allow a deeper understanding of international law and its relevance to Pakistan in various crucial matters.
This year RSIL received almost 150 applications from all over Pakistan and even citizens overseas, making the selection process more competitive than ever. The RSIL team carefully selected 40 participants which showed a keen interest and commitment to building a career in international law. This year we are proud to have also distributed six scholarships to participants demonstrating growth, development, and promise in various branches of international law and international relations.
The week-long training was held from the 17th of August to 21st August 2020 with lectures, panel discussions, presentations with experts from the RSIL Team, and external speakers along with interactive group activities all via Zoom. At the end of each day the participants were directed to the learning management system where they could seek further reading materials, videos, the presentations by the speakers during the day, and then finally submit their daily assessments.
Day 1 – Understanding the Significance of International Law
The first day of ILCC aimed at developing a basic understanding of the significance of international law. Following a welcome address and introductions of all the participants, the first session was conducted by Shayan Ahmed Khan (Senior Research Associate, RSIL) on the basics of international law and its relevance to Pakistan. This was followed by a presentation by RSIL’s Executive Director, Jamal Aziz on the strategic use of lawfare in international relations, challenges, opportunities, and lessons learned for Pakistan. The day ended with a presentation by Ahmed Farooq (International Legal Officer, Article 33 Institute) on legal research and writing.
Day 2 – Protection and Promotion of Human Rights
The second day of ILCC focused on the protection and promotion of human rights from an international and domestic legal perspective. The day began with a lecture on an international human rights law and the history of human rights by Hijab Siddiqui (Research Associate & Communications Lead). This was followed by an interactive presentation on the status of human rights in Pakistan and recent legislative developments by Minahil Khan (Senior Research Fellow, RSIL). The next lecture was led by Zoha Shahid on the fairly new concept of Business and Human Rights, an area that RSIL has been working on for over a year. The final session of the day was conducted by Ayesha Malik (Research Fellow, RSIL) on International Humanitarian Law. The day ended with a group activity in which participants presented their analysis of various human rights domestic legislation regarding the rights of transgender, the rights of juveniles in the justice system, protection of women, the rights of those the differently-abled. The judges, Mehreen Naushad (Senior Research Associate, RSIL), Abraze Aqil (Research Associate), and Zoha Shahid (Research Associate) provided feedback to each presenter.
Day 3 – Indo-Pak Disputes
Day 3 of ILCC was designed to discuss the Indo-Pak disputes from a legal perspective with various experts from the RSIL team and other leading think tanks in the country. Jamal Aziz (Executive Director, RSIL) started the day with the legal history of Jammu and Kashmir. This session was followed by a presentation by Oves Anwar (Director Research, RSIL) on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir: beyond 5th August 2019. The next session was led by Shayan Ahmed Khan (Senior Research Associate, RSIL) on understanding the Jadhav case at the International Court of Justice. The third day of ILCC closed off with a very interactive and insightful panel discussion on Indo-Pak dispute and the way forward with Ali Sultan (Vice President, RSIL), Syed Ali Zia Jaffrey (Associate Editor, Pakistan Politico), and Salman Zaidi (Director Programs, Jinnah Institute) – moderated by RSIL Directors, Jamal Aziz and Oves Anwar.
The fourth day of ILCC involved discussions on an array of international law issues. Beginning the day with the first lecture, Oves Anwar (Director Research, RSIL) delivered an interesting presentation on international nuclear law. This was followed by an extensive presentation by Hira Arif (Research Fellow, RSIL), on anti-terrorism financing and counter-terrorism financing global regime and its impact on Pakistan. Following a break, the next session was led by Waqas Aziz Qureshi (Managing Partner, Transact Advisory Services), on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Special Economic Zones and the opportunities it brings for industrialization. The last lecture of the day was conducted by Ayesha Malik (Research Fellow) on climate change and international environmental law. The day ended with the participants preparing for the final legal debate to be held on the last day of ILCC.
Day 5 – Legal Skills and Debates
After a rigorous week of learning about various facets of international law and its relevance to Pakistan, the final day of the ILCC was aimed at developing various legal skills and how to build a career in international law. The day began with an interesting panel discussion with various current and previous members of the RSIL team on how to approach applications, scholarships, and grants for graduate studies abroad. The next session was another panel discussion on resume drafting and the dos and don’ts for employment in the legal sector with Jamal Aziz (Executive Director, RSIL), Abraze Aqil (Research Associate), and Hijab Siddiqui (Communications Lead and Research Associate). Kamran Adil (Visiting Research Fellow, RSIL) then conducted a discussion on the relevance of international law in the public sector.
At the end of the day, Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, (President, RSIL) conducted an informal interactive discussion with the 40 participants on approaching international law issues in Pakistan, building a career in the field and advice on how to develop legal skills as an international lawyer in the country.
After these insightful sessions, the teams began the legal debate session where they presented arguments for and against various legal issues to a panel of judges consisting of Jamal Aziz (Executive Director, RSIL), Oves Anwar (Director Research, RSIL), and Ayesha Malik (Research Fellow, RSIL). The eight teams consisting of five members each debated on the right to consular access in the Jadhav case, the law of armed conflict, Suo Moto powers, and the protection of human rights and the revocation of Art. 370 of the Constitution of India.
Following these interesting legal debates and questions, the judges decided the best team and leading speakers. The winners were announced during the closing ceremony where two of the leading participants were granted paid internships with RSIL and four unpaid internships in the upcoming weeks.
With initiatives like ILCC, RSIL aims to continue to act as a facilitator enhancing the understanding of international law in Pakistan and to provide the aspiring international law experts in the country with the background knowledge that will lead to further research and perhaps eventually a career in international law.