The Hague Academy of International Law

Structure of the Winter Courses Programme

Given the current situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a possibility that the Winter Courses may not be able to take place. Should the Academy be forced to cancel the 2021 Winter Courses session, your registration fees will be reimbursed to you.

Closing of scholarship applications: July 31st, 2020, at 00:00 hrs (GMT+1). Closing of registrations at the full fee and Directed Studies: September 30th, 2020, at 00:00 hrs (GMT+1).

The Winter Courses focus on International Law (both public and private) and take place over a period of 3 weeks. The Winter Courses follow the traditional structure of the Summer Courses and are comprised of a General Course and a series of Special Courses. The General Course is spread over the entire 3 weeks (15 hours).

GENERAL COURSE (daily - morning - compulsory) 
This course highlights developments within the field of international law, and provides attendees with the opportunity to take a step backwards and, through an overall view and a comprehensive reflection, grasp the main lines of the discipline around which legal thinking is structured.

SPECIAL COURSES (daily - morning - compulsory)
These courses, consisting of 5 hours total spread out over one week, deal with a particular question or topic, and are given by professors who have studied the subject extensively and are specialists in the field.

SEMINARS (weekly - afternoon - optional)
All professors give seminars related to the subject of their course. During these interactive meetings, attendees have an opportunity to ask questions, to obtain additional information on the course, and to participate in discussions.

DIRECTED STUDIES AND DIPLOMA (afternoon – admission upon selection)
The Directed Studies are conducted under the guidance of a professor. They are specifically designed for high-level students, who wish to prepare themselves for the Diploma examination of the Academy, or who are simply interested to participate in seminars delving more deeply into questions of public or private international law without sitting for the examination. The latter consists of a five-hour written test on a subject that has both theoretical and practical aspects. Candidates who pass this first part of the examination then have to take an oral examination.

At the end of the session, attendees who regularly attended the courses will receive a certificate of attendance.


In addition to the courses, seminars, and Directed Studies that constitute the core of the programme, the Academy organizes several other activities for its attendees. The purpose of these is, first and foremost, to supplement their knowledge of international law with practical and concrete insights, giving them a better grasp of its effects and scope. Secondly, they help each attendee to establish a network among the hundred different nationalities present. Both of these elements have proven successful in making their stay at the Academy one which they will long remember.

With this in mind:

1.  The Academy organizes at its premises afternoon lectures on the International Court of Justice, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the various international criminal courts and tribunals and other international legal organizations based in The Hague. The lectures are given by members of these institutions and are followed by question-and-answer sessions.

2. The Academy also organizes visits to these institutions, allowing students to discover their premises and to understand how they function in practice, inter alia by attending hearings.

3. When the International Court of Justice hands down a judgment or an advisory opinion during the session, arrangements are made to allow the students to follow this event in real time in the most appropriate way.

4. At the request of the Academy, many ambassadors based in The Hague agree to receive groups of attendees to explain to them what the role and activities of an embassy are and to give them direct insight into the diplomatic profession, and the concrete role that diplomacy plays in the conduct of international relations.

5. Doctoral students from different countries who are working on identical or related topics are given the opportunity to regularly meet throughout the session, under the guidance of a lecturer or practitioner who is specifically assigned for this purpose. These doctoral networking meetings allow students to share their views, insights and different approaches with respect to issues relating to their research topics, leading to reciprocal exchanges that can of course be continued after their stay at the Academy.

6. Sales of legal publications are held each course week in the Academy’s entrance hall. These comprise books from different legal publishers as well as the Collected Courses of the Academy, offered at a special discounted price, and its Pocketbooks series.

Attendees of the 2021 Winter Courses will furthermore be able to participate in an exceptional event:

 - The "Hours of Crisis" simulation exercise: selected attendees will be invited to participate, on Saturday, January 23rd, 2021, in the "Hours of Crisis" simulation exercise. During 8 hours, eight teams of attendees will be confronted with the simulation of a major international crisis and the legal and political questions that it generates, which they will have to answer on behalf of their "clients" (States, international organizations, companies). They will have to produce legal advice and participate in crisis negotiations. During a final meeting before a jury, they will have to share their analyzes and arguments. The jury will determine the best team and the best speakers. Hours of Crisis is a version of the “Day of Crisis” that was specifically created for the Academy (see for example, for the "Day of Crisis 2017" and more generally

Finally, a variety of social events including welcome drinks and a dance party will be offered to the attendees to make the experience at the Academy complete. For information on activities in and around the City of The Hague in Winter time please see


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