Joelle Hageboutros L’21 has received and accepted an offer to be in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Judicial Fellows Programme for 2021-2022. The competitive, highly selective program was established to provide recent law graduates the opportunity to gain experience working as a clerk at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
“Each year, fifteen individuals are selected in a global competition to become ICJ Judicial Fellows,” said Andrea Mitchell University Professor in Law, Political Science and Business Ethics Beth Simmons. “Our own Joelle Hageboutros, who is exceptionally talented and experienced in public international law, rose to the top in this competition. This is a supreme honor, and testament to Joelle’s preparation and dedication, as well as to the Law School’s support.”
Established in 1999, the ICJ program is open to all law schools internationally, and typically does not select more than one student from each nominating university. Students in their final year, or within three years of their law school graduation are eligible to apply. The Law school began nominating students to the Court in 2019 and established a dedicated Penn ICJ Fellowship in 2020, which includes a clerkship selection committee comprised of Penn Law faculty who decide on final nominations to the ICJ. Hageboutros is the first Penn Law student accepted into the program.
“As the world’s apex court, the ICJ is charged with settling disputes between United Nations Member States from all regions and on any topic,” said Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership Rangita de Silva de Alwis. “Seventy-five years ago, when the International Court of Justice held its first session at the Peace Palace in The Hague, almost a third of the world’s population lived in colonies or non-self-governing territories. Only representatives of 44 States participated in the Committee of Jurists charged with drafting the Court’s Statute.”
“The Court now represents a diversity of legal traditions that constitute the 194 member states of the United Nations,” said de Silva de Alwis. “Against this backdrop, the ICJ’s Judicial Fellowship Programme promotes the development of future leaders in the field of public international law.”
Fifteen judges make up the Court, elected for terms of office of nine years by the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. Once selected, program participants are assigned to work as a clerk for a single judge for the entire duration of the fellowship, which is just under a year, providing an exceptional opportunity to build a greater understanding of international law and the Court’s procedures through daily active involvement.
“I’m really excited about this unique opportunity and am looking forward to witnessing how the work of the ICJ helps to shape global understandings of international law,” said Hageboutros. “Through this privileged view into the work of the Court, I’m hoping to deepen my practical and theoretical understanding of international law by gaining exposure to the various legal perspectives that shape the opinions of the Court. This experience will enable me to further develop the skillset and tools to pursue a career as a scholar and practitioner of public international law.”
The ICJ is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and participants can expect to gain experience in the day-to-day work of the Court including attending public hearings and researching and writing memoranda on legal questions and factual aspects of pending, international cases.
“Today, Joelle stands as a member of this distinguished cohort who will go on to shape the Court’s jurisprudence,” said de Silva de Alwis. “We are thrilled and honored to have supported a scholar like Joelle who embodies the changing mores of the contemporary world order and represents the very best that diversity offers to the field of public international law.”