On September 1st, 2020, the Academy officially opened its first online Centre for Studies and Research on the topic of Epidemics and International Law. 35 researchers from 24 different countries, carefully selected from a record number of highly qualified candidates, participated in this opening session.
The Secretary-General of the Academy, Prof. Jean-Marc Thouvenin, welcomed the participants, expressing his delight to see them gathered for this particular occasion. He then reminded them of the Academy's standards regarding the quality of the research expected from them, and gave a brief presentation of the almost century-old institution that is The Hague Academy of International Law. Professor Shinya Murase, Director of Research and an expert on the topic of the Centre, who is also intimately familiar with the Academy since he was a member of its Curatorium for many years, then proceeded to explain the rationale behind the programme and to set its scientific objectives, which are all the more important since the topic will be discussed in August 2021 at the Institute of International Law. Ms. Suzanne Zhou, co-Director of Research, a specialist on the topic as well and equally close to the Academy of which she is an alumna and Diploma awardee, then took the floor to outline the detailed schedule of the research programme, recalling that the deadlines are set at fairly close intervals, and presented the way in which the directors will conduct the research. In order for the work to begin without delay, a detailed and orderly bibliography containing direct links to all the listed sources was made available to the participants by the Peace Palace Library. The researchers have also been granted remote access to the entire online catalogue of the Library.
Finally, the participants were then given the opportunity to introduce themselves and thus get to know each other and the Academy’s team. A Q&A session rounded off the meeting, after which the research work could effectively begin. The researchers will regularly meet again with the Directors of Research throughout the duration of the Centre.