2019 Fellowship: International Criminal Court

Spencer Nestico-Semianiw

What year are you in? 

Which organization did you work for, and in which city and country? 
I worked for the International Criminal Court (ICC), situated in the Hague, the Netherlands. 

IHRP Summer Fellow Spencer Nestico-Semianiw in front of the ICCSpencer Nestico-Semianiw in front of the International Criminal Court on the internship's last day. Credit: Legal Supervisor.

What were the highlights of your fellowship? 
My experience at the ICC was, in short, phenomenal. For the majority of my summer I was tasked with the Gaddafi appeal, where I summarized submissions by the Office of the Prosecutor, counsel for the defence, as well as the victims’ office. I identified legal issues that would likely arise on appeal, and conducted research into various statutory interpretation and jurisprudential questions. I also assisted in editing, cite-checking, and formatting other Appeals Chambers’ judgments, and attended court during their delivery.

What were some of the challenges that you faced this summer? 
It was initially intimidating to develop knowledge of international law; a field of which I had little knowledge beforehand. In addition, the pace can be hard to navigate. Depending on the number of appeals, the office can either be quiet or suddenly boisterous and hectic. 

What were some of your first impressions of the country/city where you completed your fellowship? How did these impressions change over time? 
I initially found the Netherlands to be a very friendly and economical country. The Hague was quiet but engaging, and I enjoyed visiting museums, smaller towns, and the canals over the weekends. My impressions remained stable throughout my time in the country; it was very easy to feel at home there. 

Share anything interesting about your experience (best meal, favourite memory, etc.)
As I had never set foot in Europe before this summer, nor traveled at all really, I challenged myself to visit a new country every other weekend. I climbed mountains outside the small town of Annecy in France, stumbled upon a taste for goulash in Prague, and visited the clubs where the Beatles first played in Hamburg. It was exhilarating and memorable, and a welcome change from law school’s first year. 

What advice do you have for students hoping to be an IHRP fellow next year? 
For students interested in pursuing an IHRP fellowship, my advice is to start early, and speak to a mentor in international law. My alumni mentor passed on invaluable advice regarding how to structure and present my application materials, and beginning my applications in October allowed me time to finetune and perfect them. Good luck!

Interns and visiting professionals after attending the Al-Bashir judgment delivery.
Interns and visiting professionals after attending the Al-Bashir judgment delivery. Credit: Legal Supervisor.