by Ellen G. Schaffer
Georgetown University Law Center Library
During this summer's American Association of Law Libraries' meeting in Seattle, I found myself caught up in the enthusiasm of colleagues who were planning to attend the International Association of Law Libraries' meeting at The Hague in September. Even though I have been an international law librarian for over eleven years, I had never attended one of IALL's meetings. This time, though, the location was too enticing to ignore! So, figuring nothing ventured, nothing gained, I decided to ask, and my request was approved. As a first-time participant, I would like to share some of my reactions and experiences with you.
First of all, I want to say that the program was successfully and thoughtfully organized by Jan de Jongh and his colleagues from the T.M.C. Asser Instituut and The Hague Academy of International Law. Officially, we were thoroughly introduced to the subject of international commercial arbitration and law libraries in the Netherlands, but the program provided much more than that.
Our meetings were held at The Hague Academy of International Law, which is located on the grounds of the International Court of Justice at the Peace Palace. After I walked through the gates at the International Court of Justice, explored the gardens, and toured the court itself, I felt that my airfare had been worthwhile! We all know that one of the principal benefits derived from attending meetings is the opportunity to meet colleagues and make contacts. The IALL meeting provided me with the chance to meet colleagues from all corners of the world, perhaps similar to having a person-to-person INT-LAW!
As for substance, there were very informative sessions on the international arbitration of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal, the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, UNCITRAL, and UNIDROIT, to mention a few highlights. There was also the opportunity to choose to tour one of the following: The Hague Conference on Private International Law, the T.M.C. Asser Instituut, the Parliament, or the Museum Meermanno Westreenianum.
Lest you think we spent all of our time in meetings or on tours of libraries, research institutes, or relevant other locations, I must admit that we were well wined and dined. The last day of the meeting was a special one for everyone. We were treated to a tour of Loevestein Castle, the 14th-century castle where Hugo de Groot was held prisoner from 1619 until 1621, when he escaped in a book chest! That alone would have been memorable, but our hosts then took us by boat to a lovely restaurant for lunch and then by boat again through the Biesbosch to see windmills.
The day before I left for Europe, I had a reference question from one of our students who was checking citations for a Georgetown law journal. He needed a copy of a preliminary document from a working group of The Hague Conference on Private International Law. He probably thought I was joking when I said I would go to The Hague to obtain the copy for him and that he should come back in ten days. I was able to do just that! I went on the tour of The Hague Conference on Private International Law and requested a copy of the document, which I hand carried back with me. Now, how's that for service? So, when your institutions question the validity of sending you to an International Association of Law Libraries' meeting, you can tell them truthfully that your public service can only improve with your participation!
Mark your calendars now: next year's meeting will be in Vienna from Sept. 18 to 21, 1995. The meeting's theme is Current Trends in International Law: A Challenge for Law Libraries. Bridget Reischer from Harvard Law School Library is planning the conference. Some of the tentative programs she has planned are a session on the harmonization of European Union law, current developments in Central European law, legal issues affecting United Nations organizations headquartered in Vienna, and a trip to the Parliament in Bratislava, Slovakia. I hope that many of you will consider attending; I can enthusiastically say that it was worth the time, money, effort and jet lag!
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