ANU College of Law graduate and emerging international law expert, Harry Aitken, will spend nine months working with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague after being announced the 2016 recipient of the prestigious Yuill Scholarship.
The scholarship, which celebrates the life of former Family Court of Australia judge, Justice Gordon Yuill, provides $25,000 to the successful recipient to participate in the ICJ’s globally recognised nine-month traineeship program.
Harry, who completed his Bachelor of Laws with Honours in 2014 and currently works as a litigation lawyer with MinterEllison, said he was extremely appreciative to have been awarded the scholarship.
“From the moment I discovered the Yuill Scholarship four years ago – and realised there was an opportunity to work at the International Court of Justice – I wanted to apply.
“As someone who is incredibly passionate about international law, it’s been a long-held goal to work at the Court.
“There are very limited opportunities to practice in international law in Australia. The centres of legal practice are in Europe and the United States and the traineeship provides a terrific opportunity to access these worlds,” Harry said.
Beyond offering first-hand insight to the workings and processes of the ICJ, Harry said the traineeship would provide additional value through the opportunity to work with the Court’s Judge James Crawford, an Australian who is regarded globally as one of the leading practitioners of international law.
“A couple of days after being announced as the recipient of the 2016 scholarship, I received an email from Judge Crawford saying we were to work together.
“Judge Crawford is perhaps one of the most well regarded international lawyers of our times. Before he was appointed as a judge to the Court, he was lead counsel in a number of key cases, including Australia’s successful case against Japan regarding whaling in the Antarctic,” Harry said.
In an interesting coincidence, both Harry and Judge Crawford worked on the Whaling case, but in very different roles. While still studying at ANU, Harry worked as research assistant to ANU Law Professor, Dr Hilary Charlesworth, supporting her when she was appointed by Australia to sit as an ad hoc judge on the case.
Acting Dean of the ANU College of Law, Professor Donald Rothwell, said he was delighted Harry had been selected by the International Court of Justice to undertake the traineeship program.
“This is an exceptional opportunity for Harry to start his international law career, particularly working for Judge Crawford.
“The ANU College of Law is the only Australian law school to participate in this international traineeship program at the Court in The Hague.
“I am especially pleased the University has been able to so generously support Harry through the Yuill Scholarship, and help him realise such a valuable opportunity to build his expertise in international law,” Professor Rothwell said.
In addition to his role with Minter Ellison, Harry is the Editor-in-Chief of the International Law Association’s (Australia) ILA's online publication, The ILA Reporter, and sits on the ILA's National Executive Committee.
Harry will commence his traineeship with the ICJ in September 2016, and will join fellow ANU Law student, Sarah Castles, who started work in the Hague in February as the first recipient of a new ANU Fellowship to the Permanent Court of Arbitration.