2021 United Nations International Law Seminar at United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland,

The application process of the fifty-sixth session of the International Law Seminar is open from 15 March until   2 April 2021.

Important notice related to COVID-19

The International Law Seminar is tentatively scheduled to take place from 5 to 23 July 2021 at the United Nations Office at Geneva, Switzerland, subject to the caveats spelled out below.

  • Possibility of cancellation of the seminar at short notice due to lack of clarity on the global pandemic situation resulting in the organizer’s inability to plan with reasonable assurances;
  • Evolution of the local epidemiological situation and the Swiss authorities’ decisions on the easing of restrictions for participation in physical meetings;
  • Health restrictions and strict visa requirements governing entry into Switzerland;
  • Continuing major travel restrictions that may impede participants from one or two regional areas (i.e. Latin America, Africa) to attend the Seminar. The organizers are keen to ensure universality of participation;
  • Adequate funds to cover the costs of fellowship for travel and subsistence for participants, primarily from developing countries, to include up to date negative PCR tests, possible  quarantine requirements for participants from countries with a high risk of coronavirus infection (the relevant list published by Swiss authorities is updated weekly and countries considered at particular risk change constantly);
  • Changes to UN internal rules to ensure that maximum security is guaranteed for physical meetings on UN premises;
  • Unavailability of suitable and reasonably priced accommodation for participants in Geneva due to pandemic-related restrictions.

Important notice for applications submitted in 2020

Candidates who requested for their application to be carried over will have it automatically reviewed this year by the Selection Committee.

Selection process

The 25 participants in the Seminar are selected through a Selection Committee that is composed of three officials of the United Nations with a background in international law.  The Selection Committee is usually chaired by an outside eminent person (usually a Geneva-based Professor of Public International Law or Humanitarian Law).  The members of the Selection Committee choose an average of six candidates from different countries from four geographic regions (Africa, America, Asia/Middle East and Europe) and are guided by the following criteria:

  • Legal experience and academic background
  • Usefulness of the Seminar for the career of the applicant and for his/her country
  • Good knowledge of at least two of the three working languages of the Seminar (English, French, Spanish)
  • Adequate gender balance
  • Availability of funds for fellowships.

All applications will be considered, but the Selection Committee does not disclose the motivation of its choices and decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

Fellowship stipend

While participation in the Seminar is free of charge, the United Nations is unable to cover the cost of travel or subsistence for all participants. Governments have however contributed to the Trust Fund of the Seminar which awards fellowship stipends every year to participants, primarily from developing countries.

Candidates can request for fellowship on the application form and justification must be provided in the letter of motivation. The awarding of fellowships will be decided by the Selection Committee, depending on the availability of funds.

Fellowships awarded for subsistence

An allowance to cover accommodation, meals and miscellaneous will be paid to participants upon their arrival at Geneva. Participants must provide proof of accommodation to the Legal Office.

This allowance does not cover (and the United Nations does not assume responsibility for) the following:

a)  all expenses for passport, visa, vaccination and other miscellaneous items; all expenditures in the home country and in connection with the travel;
b)  payment of any salary and related allowances from the current employer of participants during the period of the Seminar;
c)   travel and other costs incurred by dependents who might accompany participants;
d)  costs incurred with respect to travel and accident insurance, medical bills and hospitalization costs in connection with attending the Seminar;
e)  compensation in the event of death or disability in connection with attendance of the Seminar.

Fellowships awarded for travel

Participants will be awarded a return air ticket to Geneva from their country of residence for the period concerned (arrival the day before the opening of the Seminar, return at the latest the day after closure). No payment will be made to cover other routing or modes of transportation or extension of the period referred to above.

The ticket issued to you will be in economy class and no change in the reservation will be permitted which would incur additional expenses to the Organization.


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